Are your vehicles in good working order? Kingsport tweaks junk car ordinance

Matthew Lane • Jul 8, 2018 at 1:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Hopefully, the “junk vehicle” ordinance in Kingsport is now much clearer.

The Model City has long cracked down on junk vehicles within its borders. Abandoned and inoperable cars and trucks are a major problem for Kingsport’s code enforcement official. She deals with the issue every day.

Last week, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen made some minor changes to the ordinance dealing with inoperable vehicles. The overhaul mainly clarified some of the language in the ordinance. The verbiage was at times confusing for some folks in the community, said Melanie Adkins, code enforcement official.

“They would go and see that five or more inoperable vehicles constitutes a junkyard and say, ‘I don’t have five, so I’m good,’ ” Adkins said.

Not true, she said. If you have even one inoperable vehicle on your property, then you’re in violation of city code. You can have an inoperable vehicle on your property, but it must be stored inside a building or garage and not be visible from the street or any other property.

Even if someone can see it in your backyard from a second-story window, then that’s still a violation, Adkins said.

But what constitutes an inoperable vehicle? According to city code, it’s a vehicle with at least one of the following characteristics:

— Lacks major or essential mechanical or body parts

— Is junked or partially disassembled

— Has been burned or flooded throughout

— Cannot be driven legally

— Is incapable of moving under its own power

— Is not registered under state law

— Has one or more tires missing or not fully inflated

— Has more than one broken window

— Is economically impracticable to restore

— Has not moved under its own power in 15 days

“People a lot of times think that if it runs, then it’s not inoperable. But if it can’t be driven on the street legally at any given time, then it’s inoperable under the definition,” Adkins said.

Violators of the ordinance can be fined up to $50 a day per vehicle. Licensed mechanic shops and junkyards are exempt from the inoperable vehicle rules.

“The BMA has decided that one car is too many,” Adkins said. “What we see a lot of is cars not being used and remaining on properties, people scrapping or stripping them down or parts all over the place. I think the position is (the BMA thinks) they’re not serving a legitimate purpose being there.”

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