In another move to clean up Prince William, the Board of County Supervisors is aiming to make it easier to remove junked cars, trucks and trailers from streets and private driveways.
Currently, the county can require a person to remove an inoperative vehicle, which is defined as one that lacks both a valid license plate and a valid inspection decal.
At Tuesday's board meeting, supervisors are scheduled to vote on changing the county's motor vehicles and traffic code to define an inoperative vehicle as one that lacks either a valid license plate or a current inspection decal. The definition would be consistent with changes made in June to the county's zoning ordinance on junked vehicles.
In recent years, the county has put an emphasis on cleaning up its neighborhoods. Prince William went further this year by hiring a "neighborhood coordinator" to warn residents of property code violations, which can include peeling paint or illegal toolsheds. The neighborhood coordinator, three police officers and two assistant county attorneys, along with property code enforcement staff members, are charged with cleaning up Prince William.
Assistant County Attorneys Robert P. Skoff and Jeffrey R.B. Notz said trash, outside storage and inoperative vehicles generate the most complaints from residents. They said owners of inoperative vehicles are getting away with keeping them because they could just get an updated plate without getting an inspection.
"Getting it inspected is really the best indicator of whether it can go on the road," Skoff said. "The way people used to abate violations by getting a new tag, they won't be able to get away with that anymore."
The county cited 554 inoperative vehicles last year, said Sean Farrell, manager of property code enforcement.
"This has been a problem. As we step up property code enforcement, we are recognizing the inadequacy of our ordinances," board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R) said.
Officials said they did not know how many more vehicles the revamped law might affect. Farrell said the fact that vehicle owners would have to get both a valid license plate and an inspection decal could deter them from placing junked cars in the driveway.
There will be exceptions for vehicles that are being repaired and that are properly hidden from public view, according to the proposed changes.
In other business, the board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the county by Robert and Janet Wilcox, a couple who sought to build on property designated in 1977 for county recreation.
The Wilcoxes' three-acre lot is in the Woodmont Estates subdivision in Occoquan. The original developers had made a deal to allow the county to use the space for recreation, but the county never utilized it, preferring to maintain the land as open space.
The Wilcoxes argued that as the land's owners they should be allowed to build a house or receive the property's fair market value of $300,000 from the county.
Robert Wilcox said in an interview when he filed the lawsuit in February that kids used the land to play paintball and others used it as a dumping ground.
Neighbors have argued to keep the land as open space, and Connaughton said the county has no plans to use it for recreation, which was its original purpose.
In addition, the Wilcoxes have agreed to give the county a little less than acre as a conservation/open space easement, according to the settlement.
They will also pay more than $13,000 in proffers -- fees for schools, libraries, parks and fire and rescue -- in return for building a house on the remainder of the land.