Michael HowlettStaff Writer
April 5, 2013
The Hillsville Town Council made changes to seven town codes, most of which deal with appearance issues, and repealed two others during its March 25 meeting. The changes in the codes clarify property owners’ responsibilities, and town employees of how to handle cases of unresponsive owners.
Town Manager Travis Jackson told council a “major cleanup” is being undertaken throughout the town. Owners of unkempt property and unlicensed vehicles will be notified by April of their violations.
Town Code Chapter 97-3 (B) reads, in part, “Weeds growing or trash lying on any parcel shall constitute a public nuisance, except that in the case of a parcel greater than two acres in area natural vegetation growing more than 50 feet from every property line shall not constitute a public nuisance. It shall be unlawful to cause or allow a public nuisance with any respect to a parcel.”
Chapter 160-1 reads “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to keep on any commercial, residential or agricultural property any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, as defined in 46.2-100 Code of Virginia, which is unlicensed or otherwise in operative and not within a fully enclosed building or structure or otherwise shielded or screened from view. If a vehicle cover method is used, the cover must be of a type that is manufactured for that purpose and covers the entire vehicle.”
If a property or vehicle owner doesn’t comply with the town code, and refuses to comply, the town can do the needed work and charge the owner for it.
Chapter 171, Article V, Chapter 26(C) deals with remedies for noncompliance with zoning requirements. It reads, “Should such notice and order fail to result in compliance with this chapter; the Zoning Administrator shall have the authority to bring legal action to ensure compliance with the appropriate action or proceeding. The Zoning Administrator shall have the authority to initiate criminal or civil proceedings as provided for by the laws of the Commonwealth. The Town shall have the right con contract the work to be completed to comply with the Town’s code, the cost of which shall be chargeable to and paid by the owner of said property. Every charge authorized by this Article with which the owner of any such property shall have been assessed and which remains unpaid shall constitute a lien against such property, and the Treasurer shall file with the Clerk of the County Circuit Court a statement of the lien claim. Release of such lien shall be executed by the Treasurer upon presentation of evidence that the amount of the lien and cost involved have been paid to the Town.”
Surfacing requirements are dealt with in three of the code changes. Chapter 171, Article XI, 50 B (3) says “All storage areas shall be surfaced with concrete, asphalt, tar and gravel that provide a dust-free surface. All areas shall be graded and drained so as to dispose of all surface water in compliance with applicable storm water management regulations.”
Article XII, 57 reads “After effective date of this amended chapter, Section 171-57, all permitted or required open off-street loading berths and parking shall be surfaced with asphalt or concrete and constructed to provide adequate drainage. Design and construction must comply with applicable storm water management regulations.”
Article XIII, 63 (B) reads, “All off-street parking areas shall be surfaced with asphalt or concrete and constructed to provide adequate drainage.”
The final code change involves the replacement of nonconforming manufactured homes. Chapter 171, Article XV, 79.1 reads, “Removal and replacement of a manufactured home which constitutes a nonconforming used on an individual lot or within a manufactured home park ore removal of any manufactured or mobile home unit which does not conform to current Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards and not Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved and manufactured in 1980 and prior and replacement of such unit with a manufactured home which conforms to said standards shall be permitted provided the replacement takes place within 60 days of removal.”
In addition, council repealed Chapter 26 entitled “Personal Policy” and Chapter 15, entitlt3ed “Grievance Procedure.” Those items are not usually included in the town code, but in a separate document, according to Jackson.