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Sharpsburg Town Council considers law to limit junk vehicles

Under the proposal, residents cannot have junk vehicles on their property for more than 30 days.

Under the proposal, residents cannot have junk vehicles on their property for more than 30 days.

March 17, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Rick Nocar doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

Nocar and his girlfriend love Ford Mustangs and have collected four on her Sharpsburg property that recently were in various states of disrepair. The couple also had four other cars there, including two that belong to friends they are helping.

At least one Sharpsburg resident saw enough of an eyesore to complain to then-Mayor Sid Gale.

Gale confirmed Nocar's situation was the impetus for a proposed law against junk vehicles on private property that the mayor and Town Council are reviewing. The proposal could come up for its first vote at the April 7 meeting.

Nocar and Danielle Draper said they could see a problem if there was grass growing high around the cars, if he was parking on someone else's property or if he was working on them at night, but he isn't.

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"This is not the town's property. It's private property," Nocar said.

While there were eight cars at Draper's property on March 6, Nocar said two of them were in the shop last week and one already has returned. He also has put the engine back in his friend's Pontiac since then, thanks to a recent break in the cold weather.

"I kind of work on my time. I don't work on Sharpsburg time," Nocar said.

Five of the cars were kept in the driveway last week, with two Mustangs behind the house and a multicolored Lincoln sitting on a concrete pad in the back yard. The 1966 Lincoln four-door convertible is a collectible Nocar said he will refurbish.

Town Attorney and Zoning Administrator Chuck Wagaman said he considers Draper's property a repair garage even if Nocar isn't being paid for the work.

Town officials wanted to come up with a better way to address the issue and had Wagaman draft a proposed junk vehicle law.

Under the proposal, people cannot have junk vehicles on their property for more than 30 days. A junk vehicle is described as one that is wrecked, disabled, dismantled, partially dismantled, inoperative, abandoned or discarded. It also could be a vehicle that is unregistered or unlicensed, unless it is up for a safety inspection certificate.

Of the eight cars at Draper's property last week, six were in various states of disrepair. They included the Pontiac, the Lincoln and the four Mustangs.

The couple also keeps at the East Chapline Street property a Chrysler belonging to a friend of Draper's. The friend cannot drive anymore so Draper drives her in the Chrysler.

The proposed law would allow the town to have junk vehicles towed if they have not been moved within 72 hours of notice.

Wagaman has been by Draper's home several times since last summer, once coming onto the property to write down the serial numbers from the vehicle, Draper and Nocar said.

Wagaman admitted he went on Draper's property to get the serial numbers.

New Mayor Hal Spielman, Wagaman and some Town Council members met March 4 to discuss the proposal. Wagaman wouldn't say what revisions they asked for, but said they don't want the law to affect everyone.

"You draft something that covers this and you inadvertently bring in other people whose situation would technically violate the terms of the law and nobody's complaining about that," Wagaman said.

Gale said there are other situations town officials want the proposed law to resolve.

However, Wagaman said formal complaints have not been made against anyone else.

Under the proposal, a junk vehicle is OK if it is enclosed in a building or connected to a legal and licensed wrecker or scrap-processing business.

Draper wants to have a three- or four-car garage built, but the couple can't afford that now.

An exception would be made for one junk vehicle to be stored at the owner's permanent residence as long as the property owner has a title to the vehicle and it is no closer than 200 feet from any neighbor's primary residence.

Nocar said Draper doesn't have enough property to keep a car that far away from a neighbor, nor do most town residents.

"I'm just so disgusted. I want to be left alone," Draper said.

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