Junk Piles on Route 100

This post is written to provide an update on the junk piles on Route 100 that have generated some level of public discussion.

The State of Vermont is responsible for the regulation and enforcement of junk or salvage yards (both the permitted and unpermitted types).

The Town’s zoning regulations focus on where a salvage yard may or may not be allowed, not how to enforce an issue on a property that may or may not run afoul of the State’s rules and regulations.

Municipalities can adopt ordinances that further enable enforcement related to junk piles and salvage yards[1]; Waitsfield does not have such an ordinance in place.

The Town could adopt an ordinance; because of statutory requirements related to ordinance adoption it would be a minimum of 60 days before one could be effective, even if an ordinance were adopted today. The Board must also weigh a response to a single issue or concern against larger townwide needs – a single incident is not necessarily evidence of an epidemic or trend.

The Town first asked salvage yard enforcement personnel from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to investigate whether or not the piles were violations of the salvage yard regulations in the fall of 2019. DEC personnel investigated, spoke with the landowner on more than one occasion, and have determined that the junk piles do not currently meet the criteria to be considered a violation under the State’s enforcement framework. The rules and regulations focus on the number of unregistered vehicles (boats do not count as unregistered vehicles) and the composition of the piles.

In accordance with State and local rules, regulations, and ordinances (or the lack thereof) – and regardless of aesthetics, appropriateness, or the property owner’s purpose – the piles are allowed to be kept as constituted on the individual’s property at this time.

The issues the owner of the junk piles has highlighted with neighboring properties have been referred to the applicable State authorities. No formal complaint has been filed with the Town by the landowner at this time related to potential violations of the zoning ordinance.

[1] 24 V.S.A. Chapters 59 and 61; 23 V.S.A. § 2157