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Bertie citizens question ordinance

WINDSOR – Clearing up public misconceptions was on the to-do list at the March 10 meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners.

Apparently, some Bertie County citizens have been having questions and concerns over the fairness of the county’s junkyard/motor vehicle graveyard ordinance.

&uot;People are getting upset because they got notice (to clean up) and their neighbor didn’t,&uot; board chairman Norman Cherry Sr. stated.

In 2006, the commissioners passed the junkyards and abandoned motor vehicle ordinance in an effort to clean up the county and make it more aesthetically pleasing.

According to the ordinance, all junkyards and motor vehicle graveyards must be hidden behind a fence or heavy vegetation.

Each establishment must also be registered with the county.

During the March 10 meeting, Cherry asked Bertie County Planning Director Traci White to describe the heavy vegetation use as a barrier.

&uot;The ordinance states that if vegetation is used instead of a fence, the property owner must plant fast-growing vegetation that grows to eight feet within five years,&uot; she explained.

Cherry further commented on the problem of public misconception.

&uot;I wonder how we can better educate the public on what exactly constitutes a junkyard,&uot; he stated.

The ordinance’s definition of a junkyard is any place which is maintained, operated or used for storing, keeping, building or selling junk, or for maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle graveyard.

Also, a junkyard is any real property in Bertie County upon which &uot;junk&uot; is stored or kept for a period of 15 days or more.

The ordinance further describes &uot;junk&uot; as old or scrap copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper, plastic, trash, rubber or junked, dismantled or wrecked motor vehicles or parts thereof, iron, steel, and other old scrap ferrous or non-ferrous materials, appliance and in-operable boats.

Additionally, a motor vehicle graveyard is defined as any place where there are more than five vehicles stored that cannot move on their own power.

Body shops and garages which are maintained to make repairs to motor vehicles do not fall under the guidelines of the ordinance unless they are also used to store more than five junked vehicles.

The full ordinance can be viewed online at http://www.co.bertie.nc.us or a copy can be picked up from the county office building on Dundee Street in Windsor.

Another related issue discussed during the March 10 meeting was the possibility of making exceptions for certain times when people cannot, due to extenuating circumstances, meet the 30-day deadline given when notice of an ordinance violation is received.

The board instructed White to draft up documents for their review regarding the possibility of an extension on the deadline for good causes.

&uot;I think the commissioners just want to be reasonable and give everybody a chance,&uot; White told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in a telephone interview.

The issue will be addressed again at a future commissioner’s meeting, most likely at the first meeting in April.