Town of Vevay: enforcement of ordinances to begin — fines for violators
The Vevay Town Council, with the assistance of the Vevay Police Department, is beginning a program to enforce ordinances with respect to keeping properties in town cleaned up.
The town has announced that beginning soon Vevay police officers will be enforcing town ordinance violations. The primary focus of these violations is the appearance and trash and other clutter on properties; high grass; and vehicles sitting that have expired license plates and/or no registrations.
Vevay Town Clerk-Treasurer Brandi Bear-Harsin said that the town is giving the community some time to address these issues before fines will be levied.
“As far as high grass and junk cars sitting around with no tags and those kinds of things,” Bear-Harsin said. “First, it has to be visible from the road where the public can see it. Mostly, it’s been junk cars sitting around. Most people have probably seen these areas around town.”
Bear-Harsin said that when ordinance violations are seen, the Vevay Police Department will issue a warning, which will give the property owner approximately seven days to address the violations. After the warning, the next steps will be taken.
“If they don’t, then they’ll be issued a fine, and we’ll move from there,” she said. “We’ve been working on this for three years. We made some headway last year. We had an officer and he got probably 15 properties cleaned up — but since then they’ve regressed and some are bad again.”
Bear-Harsin said that some of the issues are coming from a situation where a renter and a landlord are involved.
“Some of this involves tenants who are renting property; and we’re trying to say ‘Hey, landlord, you need to follow up on your properties and keep them maintained. You’re the owner’. If the landowner doesn’t clean them up, it could possibly go to their taxes.”
For those who want to see the ordinance so they know if they are in compliance or not, it can be found on the town’s website: www.vevaytownhall.org.
Bear-Harsin said that when a fine is issued, the landowner will be responsible for paying that penalty and getting the property cleaned up and in line with the town ordinance. Should the landowner not comply and pay the fine; she said that the next step would be for the town to go to court for the enforcement — and at that point the fines and fees would go against the property as a tax lien.
In addition, when organizations such as Switzerland County Tourism and Vevay Main Street work to bring visitors to the town, the condition of properties here has an impact on how tourists see the community.
“This has always been around, but we’ve never really enforced it,” Bear-Harsin said. “With the amount of complaints we’ve been getting, it’s time to do something. The people who live next to these properties — they’re the victims in all of this. Their properties are de-valued. If they want to sell — and there are two or three people who are trying to sell their properties — they might lose a sale because of the neighbors and the condition of that property. It did not get this way overnight. It’s been going on for years and years with some of these properties. In many cases it’s repeat offenders.
“We have to do something,” she continued. “We’re better than this.”
The specific provisions in the town ordinances fall under the ‘Nuisances’ tab beginning in Section 90.01.
Some of the highlights include:
• Abandoned Motor Vehicles: “Any motor vehicle parts which are left on public or private property with the town limits under circumstances indicating a desertion, relinquishment, non-use, or divestment of the vehicle.”
A vehicle is determined to be abandoned if it falls under any of the following:
— Parked on public property, including an easement, and has not been moved for three consecutive days.
— Mechanically inoperable, meaning it cannot be started and legally driven (e.g. flat tires, no battery, no drive train, broken windows, or the like),
— License plate is expired or not registered to the vehicle, or has no plate at all.
• Dangerous Disrepair: “Dangerous or detrimental to life or health due to want or lack or repair; defects in drainage systems, sewage systems, plumbing systems, or due to lighting, ventilation, or construction deficiencies, or due to infection with contagious disease; infestation with vermin, rodents, or insects; or due to the existence of unsanitary conditions likely to cause sickness among occupants of the dwelling or adjoining properties.”
— Dwelling: “Any building or part of a building, or its premises, used as a place of residence or habitation and/or sleeping by any person that is in the town limits.”
— Garbage: “Putrescible animal or vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking, and consumption of food.”
— Litter: “Rubbish, refuse, waste material, offal, paper, glass, cans, bottles, trash, debris or any foreign substance of whatever kind of description, whether it is of value which is not contained or disposed of in accordance with the Town Council.”
— Obnoxious Growth: “Any unkept grass and weed growth exceeding eight inches in height.”
• Certain Conditions Declared Nuisances: The following conditions are declared to be public nuisances:
— Dwellings that are in dangerous disrepair which are visible from any public roadway.
— Any parking or storage of abandoned vehicle, as defined herein, or any other junked, inoperative, partially dismantle, or wrecked automobiles, vehicles, machines, or similar scrap or salvage materials, on private or public property within an area of high population density for a period of time that exceeds 30 days, except as otherwise permitted or authorized by law.
— Any signs for yard/garage type sales must be removed within 24 hours after the sale.
—Animals or fowl, except: (a) pet dogs, cats, and birds within the town limits; (b) fowl being kept in the facilities used by and on behalf of 4-H; (c) chicken hens that are kept for the production of eggs and housed in a sanitary dedicated chicken coop that provides a minimum or four square feet of space for each hen; and (9) Dogs which by loud or frequent barking, howling, or yelping cause annoyance or disturbance tot he citizens of the town.
Fro the entire town ordinance and a complete list of ‘Nuisances’, go to www.vevaytownhall.org.