Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: Is there any ordinance regarding parking vehicles in your backyard? We live in the city limits, and a neighbor parks his truck in the backyard of the home, which is a bit of an eyesore from our backyard. Plus, who knows what might be leaking into the ground. If there is not an ordinance, how would one go about getting one?

B.B.

Answer: In most cases, there is no ordinance against this. You didn’t indicate that your neighbor’s vehicle is junked or unlicensed. Even if it were, for the most part, Forsyth County residents are allowed to keep one unregistered vehicle on their property in a residential area, though having more than one is a zoning violation.

According to Bruce Bailiff, code enforcement senior project supervisor for the city, you can have one unregistered and unlicensed vehicle on your property as long as it is not a safety or health hazard. Vehicles that are a safety hazard are not allowed at all. It doesn’t matter whether the vehicles are in the front yard or under a tree in back.

Additional unregistered and unlicensed vehicles are permissible if they are stored in a garage or other enclosed location.

If the truck is a junked vehicle, there’s a chance it would violate the aesthetic vehicle code. To be considered junked, the truck would not display a current license plate, and it would be partially dismantled or wrecked, or unable to be self-propelled.

City code section 42-344, “Removal of Junked Motor Vehicles for Aesthetic Purposes,” includes various factors that are considered in deciding if a vehicle should be removed, including:

  • Protection of property values or preservation of “the character and integrity of the community”;
  • Posing a danger for children from exposed areas of metal or glass;
  • Being a breeding ground for rats, snakes, insects or other pests;
  • Being a potential source of “leaking or uncontained gasoline, oil, or other flammable or explosive materials”;
  • And being overgrown with weeds or other noxious vegetation over eight inches in height.

In some areas in the city, there is an ordinance against vehicles parked between the house and the street, but not in the backyard.

If you can provide further details that might make your case, Bailiff suggested you contact City Link at 311 or 336-727-8000 with the address “and let the service request take its course. Since the indication is that the address is in the city, the request will likely be forwarded to Code Enforcement for investigation.”

As for trying to get the city to enact an ordinance, if you want to attempt that, Bailiff said, “I suggest that the person contact the community assistance liaison for the council member where the property is located or contact the city manager’s office.”

Q: In your answer about the “for life” lottery winnings, why didn’t you mention the odds of winning the top prize in Publishers Clearing House?

R.B.

Answer: Because there are multiple sweepstakes with many different odds. According to PCH, “the estimated odds of winning are listed for each giveaway promoted in the ‘Sweepstakes Facts’ pamphlet included with every sweepstakes mailing or under the ‘Sweepstakes Facts’ link at the top of every online entry.”

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Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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