By Angie Mayes

Special to the Democrat

To clean up the unincorporated areas of Wilson County, District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford plans to propose an ordinance, which outlines rules and regulations about what can be kept and what will become illegal on properties under 5.01 acres.

The ordinance, which is based on one in effect in Davidson County, said all areas under the 5.01-acre limit will be cleaned up, and no trash, junk, junk cars or other items will be allowed to pile up or remain on the land.

Stafford said she chose to propose the ordinance because of her constituents.

“Several of my constituents have contacted me, complaining about yards which needed to be cleaned up,” she said. “That includes cars that have been abandoned, cars that have been wrecked, houses that have caught fire and not been knocked down, houses which have been started but the work was never completed and things like that.”

The ordinance defines what is prohibited, what will be suppressed and what is prevented and regulated. That includes all “acts, practices, conduct, businesses, occupations, callings, trades, uses of property and all other things whatsoever detrimental, or liable to be detrimental, to the health, morals, comfort, safety, convenience or welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality, and exercise general police powers; and prescribes limits within which business occupations and practices liable to be nuisances or detrimental to the health, morals, security or general welfare of the people may lawfully be established, conducted or maintained.”

The Davidson County ordinance includes, “all property areas are to be maintained in a safe, clean and sanitary condition. Premises are to be kept free of an accumulation of trash, junk, junk cars and debris. No inoperable and/or unlicensed vehicles are allowed, and all motor vehicles must be parked on a hard surface [such as] concrete, asphalt or gravel.”

The ordinance from Davidson County also mentions the restriction of tractor-trailers on property, but Stafford said the rule she intends is for the abandoned trailer, not the semi-tractor itself. That applies to single- or two-family residences.

Illegal dumping is also included in the ordinance. That is defined as “the disposal of waste, trash, junk, furniture, tires, construction materials or debris, etc., in unauthorized or undesignated areas, which is prohibited. Illegal dumping is commonly found in uninhabited or otherwise deserted areas, vacant lots, along roadways, in alleys and at construction sites.”

Inoperable and unlicensed vehicles would also not be permitted. The verbiage of the ordinance is “except as may be otherwise permitted by the zoning code, inoperable, unlicensed or unregistered motor vehicles cannot be openly parked, kept or stored on any premises. Such vehicles must be stored in a garage or other structure designed for that purpose. An open carport will not satisfy this requirement.”

Garages for vehicle repair will also not be allowed, if the repair is more than a minor fix.

“Only minor repairs of motor vehicles can be done on residential property,” the Davidson County ordinance said. “The repairs must be to vehicles owned by either the owner-occupant or their tenant. Major repairs that require dismantling the vehicles major components are prohibited. Repair or stripping of vehicles by individuals engaged in an auto repair business in a residential zone district is prohibited.”

The proposed ordinance also said, “vehicles may not be abandoned or stored on public property. Abandoned vehicles on public property are defined by state and local law as vehicles which are ‘more than four years old’ and remain unattended on the public right of way for 10 days; or vehicles in an ‘obvious state of disrepair,’ which remain unattended on the public right of way for at least three days.”

Signs for home businesses would not be allowed and only one non-resident employee is allowed to work on the premises, the ordinance said.

Stafford said her constituents not only complain about the look of the yards, but also the possibility of snakes and rodents in the area.

Stafford said the ordinance is still in its infancy, but she plans to discuss it with the county mayor, her constituents and others at a meeting, separate from a commission meeting. Before it’s passed, the ordinance will need to be approved by the Wilson County Planning Committee, Wilson County Planning Commission and then the full commission.

She said that the possibility of properties grandfathered into the new law is an option, but it hasn’t yet been discussed.

The proposed ordinance is expected to be brought up at the Aug. 20 commission meeting.