SHERIDAN — If you live in the village of Sheridan and have an old ’74 Pacer rusting away in the back yard, you may want to consider finding a new home for it.
At Monday’s regular meeting, the Sheridan Village Council discussed the possibility of adopting a recently drafted ordinance dealing with junk within village limits. The present ordinance, some council members say, doesn’t have much teeth when it comes to enforcement.
According to Councilman Pete Gehoski, who served on the committee that drafted the language for the tentative ordinance, that needs to change.
“The enforcement section (of the current ordinance) has been completely reworked,” Gehoski said.
Under the proposed new ordinance, any property owner with junked cars or other trash in his yard would be notified by certified letter that he is in violation and has 30 days to take care of the problem. If the property owner complies within the 30-day “grace period,” no fine is levied.
If the junk is not cleared away within 30 days, however, the property owner would be fined $15 per day until he complied with the cleanup order. After 46 days, an additional $300 fine would be assessed and the owner would be notified, again via certified mail.
After 48 days, the village would remove the junk, with all costs of doing so passed along to the property owner. In all, a Sheridan resident who failed utterly to comply with the ordinance could be looking at fines of $510, in addition to whatever costs imposed by the village if it has to handle the cleanup.
If the fine was not paid, it would be added to the resident’s village property tax bill and collected come tax time.
“Basically, it gives us the ability to collect fines through taxes, instead of going through the police,” Gehoski said.
Village President Susan Wyckoff-McFarland said she supports the new proposed ordinance changes, noting the ineffectiveness of the current one.
“What we’ve done in the past hasn’t worked,” Wyckoff-McFarland said. “This is something new. A daily fine will get people moving a little bit faster.”
Not all council members thought the ordinance was a good idea, however. Councilman Harold “Buck” Arrington said he doubted the new ordinance would work any better than the current one and might even cause problems for the village.
“You’re gonna open a can of worms here that you can’t handle,” Arrington said. “I don’t think you’re going to make any of these fines stick. The current ordinance is OK.”
Arrington also questioned the legality of the ordinance, which has not yet been reviewed by legal counsel.
The council voted to have the wording of the ordinance examined by a lawyer before next month’s regular meeting, when the ordinance — along with any revisions or changes — is expected to be adopted.
Council members also voted on plans for the village to host a free cleanup day for residents, in which large items could be dropped off at a cleanup site prior to the ordinance going into effect. At present, the village anticipates having at least two 40-yard containers available.
A date for the cleanup effort was not set at Monday’s meeting, but it will likely be held within the next four to six weeks.
“I think this is the direction we should take,” said Wyckoff-McFarland. “It can’t not help us.”