Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin has been seeking input via the Town of Rocky Mount’s Facebook page regarding “inoperable vehicles” regulations.

“I think we have had more complaints in the past six months than in the decade prior,” Ervin posted. “We allow inoperable vehicles on property if they are covered. Some folks have said we need to go further such as not allowing them in the front or side yard, limiting it to one per property or going so far as not allowing inoperable vehicles outside of a garage.”

According to Rocky Mount’s Town Code, inoperable vehicles are defined as motor vehicles not in operating condition or which for a period of 60 days or longer have been partially or totally disassembled by the removal of tires and wheels, the engine or other essential parts required for operation of the vehicle. Also included are vehicles that lack valid license plates or inspection decals.

While the discussion only garnered a few responses, there were some interesting points made. As Erving agreed there was “good discussion,” though the comments in opposition to regulation came from Facebook members who, according to their online info, do not reside in town.

A Patrick County man said he believes if he pays taxes on his property he should have the right to do what he would like on his property. Others echoed his thoughts, adding that they believe some people sell car parts to make ends meet.

Erving acknowledged that county residents have fewer regulations on related matters including vehicle storage, mowing and livestock ownership. However, he said, “The town already has limits on inoperable vehicles and the question at hand is are they fair and are they sufficient. Towns in Virginia have basic land use rules and folks that gravitate to the urban areas tend to expect those rules — you have to mow your grass, keep trash up, etc. Rural counties often do not and they are great places for the more libertarian spirits that don’t want limits on property use.”

Johnny Nolen is one such resident. He said the Town of Rocky Mount and the people living in it should desire clean, welcoming and uncluttered landscapes and streets, free of trash and debris.

“A town, (to which) businesses want to locate, a place people want to live and people want to visit,” Nolen wrote.

Erving said town officials are “trying to come up with ways that balance the home owner that has a 1950 Chevy they are restoring vs the one that has a wrecked Toyota that they are slowly selling for parts.”

Soliciting feedback, especially on social media, is not a task for the faint of heart, so Erving is to be commended for opening the floor to the public and seeking input from the taxpayers. He is also correct that there is a reasonable expectation of curb appeal in a town. It isn’t about minding one’s own business as one person commented because it does affect the value of the home next door, or across the street.

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