I knew the day was coming. I was expecting it.
We've been cited by the Zoning Enforcement Branch of Zoning Administration. Our property is officially an automotive graveyard.
The certified letter arrived a few weeks ago and stated the following:
"Zoning inspections conducted...[have] revealed there is the storage and parking of inoperable vehicles in the front, side and rear yards of the above-referenced property, and the storage of vehicle parts and other miscellaneous items."I admit it. Our back yard looks trashy. We’ve let the accumulation get out of hand. But keeping accumulation from occurring here is difficult because this property has been the family homestead since the mid 1940s. Also, we have a bit of land, so friends and family often temporarily park vehicles here; but temporarily has a way of expanding. And because my husband is a mechanic, he's forever working on some kind of project. When a delay in getting parts or bad weather ensues, he abandons the current project in favor of another one.
The letter goes on to name a few specific vehicles, all of which have expired registrations and some of which are not ours. The letter—some three pages long—also mentions these:
"...[A]utomobile tires, car ramps, hydraulic floor jack, brush guard, automobile exhaust components, other miscellaneous auto parts, riding lawn mower, and plastic storage containers."Additional information, both from the letter and from the county code, states that we must not build any additional structures for storage.
We can file an appeal by submitting a particular form and the fee of $375.00, but we aren’t filing. This mess has got to go! Besides, the time of year for vegetable gardening is approaching, and we need some space.
As you may already have guessed, my husband has both the pack-rat gene and the fix-it gene. And, truly, he was planning to clean up the yard this spring, but after our annual yard sale, which we usually have in June. Now we have until April 14 to hide with appropriate screening, to throw out, or to store inside one of our three sheds all the junk and all the other material which we regularly use to work on our registered vehicles. Therefore, the notice is a good motivator, one with a definite deadline.
Of course, having problems with junk is not unique to us. According to the December 7, 2005 Washington Post article “Stockpiling Run Rampant,"
“Over the course of 17 years, a married couple living in a mid-unit, three-bedroom, three-story townhouse in Burke had hoarded so much stuff that their home was overflowing.Whew! We aren’t anywhere close to that situation, despite the fact that we’ve lived here nearly thirty-four years. Certainly, our four cats don't permit any rats here.
“The weight of the debris was threatening to cause the floors to cave in…. It took 15 dumpsters, each with a capacity of 40 cubic yards, to clean out the rat-infested house.”
A friend of ours is in the towing-and-salvage business, and he came yesterday with his flat-bed. Pray that our friend stays well and can keep hauling all this week. He has just started. Six more vehicles and the riding lawn mower remain, as well as an entire shed filled with miscellaneous auto parts. We're going to need that shed to store the dune buggy.
(Readers, please note that I have hoarded the above Washington Post article since December 7. I was following my parents' motto "It might come in sometime"!)