Owners of abandoned vehicles to face citations

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BERRYVILLE ---- Enforcement of the city's junk vehicle ordinance and the future of the old First Baptist Church building were concerns expressed Tuesday night at the Berryville City Council meeting.

Don Henson, a Morse Avenue resident, addressed his concerns about inoperable vehicles on the one block-long street. "I have fought this and fought this and fought this for 18 months," and added that nothing had been done by the city.

Police chief David Munoz told Henson that the city attorney, building inspector and Sgt. Pearson of the police department had met recently to develop a strategy for enforcement of the ordinance. If junk vehicles are parked on a city street -- as is allegedly the case with Henson, who reported one in front of his house -- they can be issued citations and, after a period of time, be towed at the owner's expense.

Those on private property, Munoz said, will be issued citations and further action taken following that. He said letters sent by his department to the vehicles' owners had produced no results.

"The council is unanimous in the city getting aggressive on this matter," said Mayor Tim McKinney.

In the matter of the First Baptist Church, which is no longer holding services, a neighboring resident asked if anyone on the council or city government knew what future use is being planned for with the now-vacant buildings.

It was noted that the property, located at 510 Madison east of Berryville City Hall, is currently zoned R-1 residential, which allows churches but not a commercial business or apartments.

Alderman Joel Gibson said that he believed the buildings were constructed with tax-free money, and can't be sold.

Neither Gibson nor Alderman Burton George, who said his father had been a member of the church, could recall when the buildings were constructed. They both speculated they might have been built prior to the 1900s.

Gibson speculated the property could be donated to another church.

In other matters, Mayor McKinney read and signed a proclamation designating the month of May as National Historic Preservation Month; and received approval from the council to execute an easement across the front of the National Guard property for movement of a gas line. The movement is to clear the right-of-way for the pending widening of U.S. Highway 62 East.

Mayor McKinney also reported that construction of a sign for the Community Center was underway at the intersection of Eureka Avenue and Dr. Poyner Parkway. Major funding for the sign is to be from Tyson Foods and the Community Center Foundation, he said.

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