The sight of old cars sitting in the yard with weeds growing around them is drawing the ire of Marietta city councilman Roger Kalter.
"We're big on tourism, and we're working on the pedestrian safety and sidewalks," said Kalter, D-1st Ward. "If you're out walking about or bicycling you certainly stumble into these junk vehicles."
Kalter is working with city council in an effort to redraw the ordinances surrounding storage of vehicles inside city limits.
KEVIN PIERSON The Marietta Times
An old car sits on property on Fairgrounds Street in Marietta Monday afternoon. City councilman Roger Kalter is hoping to change the city ordinance allowing residents to keep one “junk” vehicle on their property.
Currently, the city operates on Ordinance 1339.01, passed in July 1999, that approves the use of International Property Maintenance Code Section 302.8 as the regulation for the condition of vehicles in the city.
That law states that residents can keep one currently unregistered or uninspected motor vehicle on their premises. It also stipulates that the vehicle cannot be in a state of major disassembly or disrepair, unless it is being worked on in an enclosed area.
Kalter said he takes exception to that rule, and is working with Marietta Law Director Paul Bertram to get it updated.
Under Section 302.8, residents are permitted to have not more than one currently unregistered or uninspected vehicle on any premises in the city, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly or disrepair. The exception is that any vehicle is entitled to undergo a major overhaul if it is performed in an enclosed area.
Source: International Property Maintenance Code.
"That code says you can literally have a junk vehicle on your property forever and that, in my opinion, is just absurd," Kalter said.
Kalter said he would like to alter the ordinance to allow the vehicles to remain on property in the city for only a few months without something being done to them.
By doing so, the city could allow for people who are interested in making restoration efforts to vehicles to do them without appearing as junk.
"We love the classics. We love the car shows. It's not about those," Kalter said.
Once the city receives the updated property maintenance code, Kalter said the issue will be brought to council.
No time frame for when the city will receive the code was available, as it was requested several months ago, Kalter said.
Issues with restoration of cars are not that common, but the interpretation and definition of what constitutes a "junk" vehicle is.
"One person's junk is somebody else's treasure," noted Marietta Police Chief Brett McKitrick.
According to the law, a vehicle is not considered junk unless it is in a major state of disassembly or in the process of being stripped or dismantled.
Many of the complaints about "junk" vehicles are for cars and trucks that actually do not meet the legal definition of junk, McKitrick said.
"Just because you've got a car that's not licensed sitting on your property doesn't make it a junk vehicle," he said.
Overall, nine out of the 10 complaints the department receives are for vehicles the police can do nothing about.
"There are a couple people that tend to horde junk cars, and there are some that probably need to go," McKitrick continued.
Marietta resident Jack Iams, of Sixth Street, said he feels that cars and trucks left idle on someone's property for long periods of time should be addressed.
"There's a difference between abandoning them and working on them," Iams said.
If a vehicle is found to be in violation of city ordinance, the punishment is a minor-misdemeanor.
A second offense is a fourth-degree misdemeanor and a third offense is a third-degree misdemeanor, police said.
Kalter said he has had about eight junk cars and vehicles removed from the city as a result of nuisance complaints filed with the city health department.
Iams said he hopes residents will take it upon themselves to take their old vehicles to the junk yard when needed, but said the city needs to get involved in some cases.
"I don't think that people should be allowed to leave their automobiles that are not really being utilized on the property to just rust away. That's an eyesore," Iams said.