Monday, May 20, 2024

Bridgeport council wrestles with growing presence of junk vehicles


BRIDGEPORT – Owners of inoperable, unlicensed or junk vehicles within the city limits might want to start giving thought to what future plans they have in mind for their automotive “treasures”.
The number of abandoned, junk and inoperable vehicles within the city limits has increased to the point that the issue has attracted the attention of city officials. At its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, August 16, the city council discussed options to address the growing eyesore and arrive at a solution that resolves the matter without putting undue hardship on vehicle owners.
Mayor Janet Conklin referenced the Douglas County ordinance, specifically, Section 8.32-070 of the county’s Public Nuisance Code, pertaining to junk vehicles. Among other provision, the county code defines junk vehicle as one that meets at least three of the following criteria:
1. More than three years old.
2. Inoperable – cannot move under its own power.
3. Damaged – broken or missing window, wheel, mechanical, electrical or structural component.
4. Not licensed for highway use.
5. Fair market value equivalent to scrap value.
Conklin said she has been hearing complaints from residents about junk vehicles and asked council members for their suggestions as to how best to deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.
“We’re starting to get more and more people and they’re just dragging cars in like crazy,” said Conklin
Conklin acknowledged cases where many members of a large family may each need a car for work and other purposes, but added that numbers of vehicles turning up in front yards are not in running condition. In some cases, vehicles are even parked over water boxes and city personnel must crawl under them to read the meters.
“I can put in everything I want,” Conklin told council members, “but you make the rules; I enforce them.”
Council member Phil Lee “if you have two or more vehicles, it’s a wrecking yard,” Lee said several of the vehicles parked on front yards junk cars.
“I know of about 20,” Lee said.
Lee acknowledged that Bridgeport has many homes with multiple families and that means multiple cars.
“I’m O.K. with that but we need to organize the way those cars are parked,” Lee said.
It’s a health and safety issue,” said public works superintendent Stuart Dezellem. “You can’t have your vehicle jacked up and sitting on wood blocks or anything like that.”
Council member Matt Schuh said he wanted to find a balance between addressing the problem of junk vehicles without making conditions so strict that it drives residents from the city.
Council member Jackie Hentges mentioned comments she has received from other quarters about how nice Bridgeport is looking lately and that if it is a goal of the city to maintain that image then steps should be taken to discourage junk vehicles.
Hentges also mentioned that one reason vehicles might be parked on lawns and close to a house was due to vehicle break-ins that occur to cars parked further away.
Conklin offered to review other ordinances and, with assistance of the city’s legal counsel, put together some guidelines and council’s later review.

bridgeport, council, meetings


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