COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Update on Cismont Zoning Violation (TMP 65-20)

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Update on Cismont Zoning Violation:  Illegal Junkyard on TMP 65-20

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham; Ms. McCulley & Heide

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

June 13, 2007

 

 

ACTION:  X                         INFORMATION: 

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

     ACTION:                         INFORMATION: 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

This update relates to a zoning violation involving an illegal junkyard located at 195 Campbell Road (TMP 65-20) in the Keswick/Cismont area on property owned by Cecil and Doris Gardner.  Community Development staff has pursued this violation since it was brought to their attention after a fire on the property on January 4, 2005.  (A more complete history of the background is found within the attached executive summary from February 8, 2006.) 

 

This case was discussed by the Board on February 8, 2006.  At that time, the Board asked staff to work with DEQ to conduct water sampling in order to determine if contaminants were present at unsafe levels.  The onsite well was tested in March by the State laboratory.  The testing for organic volatiles, semi-volatiles, metals, PCBs and pesticides found no contaminants in the water.  

 

On December 1, 2006, the Zoning Administrator signed a consent agreement with the property owners giving them until June 1, 2007 (6 months) to complete the clean up.  By the agreement, the property owners gave the County permission for contractors to come onto the property for the purpose of providing cleanup estimates in the event the owners were unable and the County chose to complete the clean up.

 

The property clean up will not be complete by June 1st, the deadline in the existing agreement.  The property owners have cooperated and are continuing to clean up.  It is estimated that approximately 90 – 95% of the materials have been removed.  A preliminary estimate for the remaining 5 – 10% to be cleaned up by a contractor who provides this type of service (solid waste removal) is $250,000.  If the County were to clean up the site, clean up costs would be recovered in the same manner that taxes are collected.  Thus, a lien would be placed on the property and if the debt is not paid within three years, the County could sell the property and recover its costs from the sale. 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Protect the County’s Natural, Scenic and Historic Resources

 

 

DISCUSSION:

Historically, the County has not contracted to clean up properties to abate a zoning violation.  There have only been three (3) cases in 18 years in which the County has contracted to clean up a property (and charged the costs to the owners).  Of those cases, two involved potential public health or safety hazards and the third was a chronic unresolved case with an uncooperative violator.  Therefore, cleaning up this property would establish a precedent in that there are no identified public health or safety hazards remaining and there is a cooperative violator who is working to abate the violation.

 

Staff will list factors favorable and unfavorable to funding the clean up of this junkyard.

 

Favorable:

  1. It could potentially abate the violation sooner than waiting for the property owners to complete it.*  (*This is not an absolute fact in the event the owners chose to contest the County’s action and the clean up is delayed by court proceedings.) 
  2. If it does abate the violation sooner, some staff time may be saved that would otherwise be expended if the case remains open and continuing monitoring is needed.

 

Unfavorable:

  1. There is no evidence of public health or safety hazards relating to the condition of the property.
  2. This project is not funded, and because of its high cost, reallocation of funds to clean up the property would impact other services / projects.
  3. The property owner has accepted responsibility and is cooperating in cleaning up the property and abating the violation.
  4. The clean up of private property to abate a zoning violation is unprecedented in Albemarle County.  It would potentially open the door to a public expectation that the County provide more of a “clean up” service in the future than in the past. This could also work to provide an incentive to violators who may choose to have the County clean up their property rather than undertake it themselves.

 

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

In the event the Board decides to fund the remaining cleanup, the estimated $250,000 cost is not currently funded.  Funding this project could impact other services / projects from which the money would be reallocated.  In addition, staff suggests that this may establish a precedent that would warrant ongoing funding in future years for additional clean up projects.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends continuing to work with the property owner to complete the clean up of the property rather than the County funding the clean up.  In the event the Board decides to fund this clean up project, Community Development and General Services staff will administer the project.  In the event the Board decides not to fund the clean up at this time, staff will continue to monitor the clean up progress, work with the owners to expedite the completion of the clean up as soon as possible, and continue to update the public using our established communication system.  Staff will monitor the amount of material removed from the property using receipts and any other quantifiable means, to assure continued good faith effort towards compliance.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Executive Summary February 8, 2006

B – Comparison photos of before (03/02/05) and now (05/31/07)
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