The Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-1 on April 6 to uphold a determination by county staff that a Shipman property constituted a junkyard after the occupant submitted an appeal to the violation in March.
In March 2020, the county’s planning and zoning department received a complaint of a junkyard on the property, located at 904 Farrar Bridge Lane and zoned Agricultural (A-1), but no action could be taken at the time due to courts being closed, documents state.
The appeal claims the property is not a junkyard and the occupant already has begun removing items from the lawn, which was confirmed at the meeting by Brandon Stark’s brother, William. It also states staff made an “illegal determination” by trespassing on a private roadway to view the property.
“I’m not going to say they made the wrong decision. The only thing we could do is maybe delay to allow for cleanup,” board member Gifford Childs said.
William Stark, who lives on the adjoining property also owned by Billy and Brenda Stark, said it has been a challenge to convince his brother to have the space cleaned. So far, he estimated roughly 40% of the existing trash had been removed.
“He [Brandon] has been doing some work to get it cleaned up but I understand its not enough for the county at the moment,” said William Stark, who has helped in the clean up effort.
County staff observed accumulated materials that constituted a junkyard on Aug. 18, 2020, and sent a letter of violation to the owners of the property, Billy and Brenda Stark, ordering them to correct the violation within two months. From there, staff granted two extensions to the deadline pushing it back to Nov. 25, 2020, and denied further requests for extensions.
While the property is owned by the Starks, it is occupied by their son Brandon Stark, who applied to appealed the violation.
Planner Emily Hjulstrom said staff again observed a junkyard remained on the property in December and attempted to communicate directly with the younger Stark that action be taken by Feb. 22 and that there would be no further deadline extensions granted.
She also noted Billy and Brenda Stark do not live in the county.
William Stark argued they could have the Shipman property adequately cleaned given another extension.
Member Shelby Bruguiere questioned if the board could delay its decision by one month in order to allow the family more time, stating she was “absolutely supportive” of allowing an additional 30 days, especially considering William Stark’s involvement.
Hjulstrom, however, cautioned against granting an extension, partly because doing so strayed away from the purpose of the hearing Tuesday and also because it could set a precedent.
“I would just be afraid of setting that as precedent,” Hjulstrom said. “It sounds really good to me, it sounds really nice, but I just don’t know that that’s a route you guys want to take because I don’t know that ultimately it’s going to change anything.”
Although no court date has been set, County Attorney Phillip Payne said during the meeting there are two routes the county could take to help correct the violation if there is not a second appeal.
“There are two remedies here: one is criminal, one is civil. Traditionally, the county has pursued the civil remedy rather than the criminal remedy for various reasons,” Payne said.
Hjulstrom said in an April 8 email to the Nelson County Times county officials are “currently reviewing next steps in light of the comments made by the applicant’s representative.”
The public hearing portion drew no comments.