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Parking it

City considers allowing businesses to keep junked vehicles behind a fence

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Posted: Saturday, May 25, 2013 4:30 am

A proposal to change Killeen’s law on storing junked vehicles has provoked a debate on the Killeen City Council over how to best clean up the city.

The state defines junked vehicles as vehicles that have either an expired license plate or inspection sticker, and are either wrecked, dismantled or inoperable.

Junked vehicles cannot be kept on public property for more than 72 hours and on private property for more than 30 consecutive days, according to present municipal law.

Exceptions are made for locations, including classic car collectors, licensed vehicle dealers and licensed junk yards, where the vehicles must be kept behind a fence or out of public view.

City staff has proposed to open the law to allow vehicle repair shops to store junked vehicles — many of which already do.

The city’s current law does not allow junked vehicles to be stored at repair shops,;however, the Killeen Planning Department believes the change would encourage shops to put junked vehicles out of sight.

“Staff is working on the premise of improving the appearance of the city,” said Ray Shanaa, the city’s planning director, during Tuesday’s council workshop.

“If you can have them hidden behind a fence, is that going to improve the appearance of the city? The staff believes it does.”

Mayor Dan Corbin — who has led the march on cleaning up the city’s image — supported the change, arguing that mechanic shops often need more than 30 days to bring a vehicle up to operable condition.

The proposal met strong disapproval from Councilmen Terry Clark and Jonathan Okray, who thought it would lead to more unsightly mechanic shops in Killeen.

“We talk in one meeting about cleaning up the city’s image but then we come back later and say, ‘Well, somebody can’t afford to get their car fixed so I guess we allow repair shops to become junk yards,’” Clark said.

“Do we want to clean up the city’s image or do we want to soften our ordinances in such a way to create more urban blight.”

Shanaa argued that if the junked vehicle is behind a fence or inside of a building, no one will be able to see it.

“The premise here is improving the appearance of the city. Appearance is what we can see from the street,” Shanaa said.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone said junked vehicles leaking oil and other chemicals under the fences could have environmental effects.

“I think we have to account for those effects,” Blackstone said. “That junk is getting into our water system.”

Corbin said the idea of mechanic shops becoming junk yards as a result of the amendment was a “ridiculous notion.”

“We have dozens of auto repair shops in this city, many of which take more than 30 days to repair a vehicle, for whatever reason, waiting on parts or the customer to pay,” Corbin said.

“We are suggesting that these people who are in the business of repairing cars can’t keep vehicles on their premises until they get them repaired, when it takes more than 30 days. What is this council thinking? It’s ridiculous.”

Councilman Jose Segarra agreed with the mayor, arguing that vehicles arrive at body shops in very bad shape.

“You have to have at least a fenced-in area where they can keep the car until they get some of your parts,” Segarra said. “A body shop is one of those places because they look like junk.”

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2 comments:

  • Eliza posted at 9:22 am on Sat, May 25, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 656

    @ “We talk in one meeting about cleaning up the city’s image but then we come back later and say, ‘Well, somebody can’t afford to get their car fixed so I guess we allow repair shops to become junk yards,’” Clark said.
    “Do we want to clean up the city’s image or do we want to soften our ordinances in such a way to create more urban blight.”
    --------------------

    I have to agree with Councilman Clark and Okray--- From observing the council meetings ,there have been an awful lot of , what seems to be appeasing instead of following the rules and regs. that are in effect.

    Ms. Blackstone gives her concern with leaking oil, which I agree has to be taken into consideration. But also not only environmental concerns have to be considered, when you have a pile of junk, rather it be cars, piles of wood,tires or any kind of trash left to set .It will attract snakes,rats,etc and can become a safety or health hazard.
    It doesn't matter that Mr. Shanaa stated that no one will see it if the junk is piled behind a fence, the vermin and other type of animals will, when they go looking for places of cover or a possible food source.
    Instead of trying to take the east way out, and changing the rules to meet the needs of each individual, just enforce what has been decided upon before and enforce them.

    There was what was being allowed to be a 'behind a fence 'junkyard in a nice neighborhood off of West cliff. Until there was a house fire and destroyed it all, there was absolutely no reason to have allowed this to go on in a neighborhood, where others try to keep their own property neat and clean.
    But someone who worked for the city or the people had allowed it. The owner of the property had to have been in the junk business, and so was being allowed to run it in one of the nicer neighborhoods.

    The problem with being allowed to have a 'private' junkyard behind a fence in neighborhoods is that it devalues the others property.in that the fence itself, is usually one made out of correlated metal which ends up looking like just more junk.

    .

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 7:22 am on Sat, May 25, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 202

    "Shanaa argued that if the junked vehicle is behind a fence or inside of a building, no one will be able to see it. “The premise here is improving the appearance of the city. Appearance is what we can see from the street,” Shanaa said."

    What about the neighbors that can see the junk from their own backyards and windows. I for one, do not appreciate having to view "junk" in my neighbors back yards. It is stomping grounds for rodents and snakes.
    What is the city ordinance regarding backyards?