Hearing set for revamped nuisance ordinance

"Kitsap County planning officials have resurrected a controversial public nuisance ordinance intended to keep properties clean of junked cars and garbage.After being overhauled in response to contentious public testimony, the proposal is scheduled for a public hearing Aug. 27 during a Kitsap County Commissioners meeting at the courthouse in Port Orchard.Proponents of the nuisance ordinance said the measure would protect them from dwindling property values when neighbors refuse to clean up their property or haul away junk cars.Opponents said the measure targets legitimate classic car collectors and those who fix up older cars.We expect a lot of people to attend the public hearing, Commissioner Chris Endresen said. People with hobbies are very passionate about them. But this ordinance is about a lot more than just cars. It's also about garbage and health concerns. There's nothing more frustrating for people who have to bring in pictures showing us yards filled with garbage.Endresen said the ordinance could give the county a way to clean up unsafe and unhealthy garbage or scrap material. Eric Baker, a code-enforcement supervisor for the county Department of Community Development, said the amended ordinance strikes a compromise between proponents and opponents. It allows for up to six cars on any piece of property, if the vehicles are screened from view and don't drip oil or other contaminants.Proper screening would include natural vegetation or fencing, but not a tarp thrown over a vehicle. Junk car owners wouldn't be required to build garages or sheds, but they would have to completely hide their vehicles from neighbors - even those with multi-story homes.The ordinance also would require junk car owners to sign an environmental mitigation agreement indicating whether the vehicle's fluids would be drained, if drip pans or pads would capture the material, or if the vehicle would be placed on a concrete or paved surface. The agreement would carry a $10 per vehicle fee.The ordinance defines junk cars as meeting three of four criteria prescribed by state law: The vehicle must be at least three years old; significantly damaged (including broken windows, windshields, missing tires, dents in the body and a nonfunctional engine); apparently inoperable; and have a market value equal to that of scrap. "

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