Saluda updates nuisance and junked motor vehicle ordinances

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2013

At their March 11 meeting, Saluda commissioners adopted proposed amendments to the city’s nuisance and junk vehicle ordinances, composed by city attorney Bailey Nager.  At their February meeting, commissioners directed Nager to update the two documents.

Amendments to the nuisance ordinance largely concern enforcement. For alleged violations of the measure, the city’s zoning administrator will serve notice to accused violators in person, by certified mail or if those methods cannot be employed, by publishing the notice in a newspaper published in Polk County, weekly, for two weeks. The tenant or owner has 30 days from the date of notice to remedy the nuisance condition or “the City shall cause the nuisance condition to be remedied.”

If the zoning administrator determines that a condition constitutes a danger or is “seriously prejudicial” to public health or safety, and requires “immediate corrective action,” no notice need be given unless required under the U.S. Constitution, or the North Carolina Constitution.

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If the person who has been notified fails to correct or remove the nuisance condition(s), in the time permitted, the Board of Commissioners will have city employees correct the condition(s). In such cases the owner or occupant will be charged the cost of abatement, which must be paid within 30 days of the receipt. If these charges are not paid within the prescribed time, a lien will be placed upon the property, and be collected as unpaid taxes.

Adopted procedures do not prevent the city from taking criminal action against individuals, firms or corporations found in violation.

Urban attractiveness, the city’s appearance, protection of property values, promotion of tourism, and “the promotion of the comfort, happiness and the emotional stability of occupants in the vicinity of junked motor vehicles,” are some of the points behind the adoption of amendments to the city’s junk vehicle ordinance. Saluda’s police department and zoning administrator will be responsible for administration and enforcement.

In cases meeting the definitions of “abandoned,” “nuisance,” or “junked” vehicles left on public streets and highways, the board of commissioners can determine that such vehicles may be removed immediately if they obstruct traffic; are parked in violation of an ordinance prohibiting or restricting parking; are parked in no-stopping zones, or loading, standing, or bus zones, or if they are parked in violation of temporary parking restrictions.

When such vehicles are removed, a city official will notify the last known registered owner and let him or her know where the vehicle has been taken and what that owner must do to redeem the vehicle and request a probable cause hearing on the removal.

Saluda City Clerk Monica Pace said abandoned vehicles are not much of a problem, but added that a couple of properties have had several vehicles that fit the description in the ordinance.