Junk car legislation vetoed by New Castle County Executive

In the first veto of his administration, New Castle County Executive Paul Clark takes issue with a proposal passed by County Council that would have permitted inoperable motor vehicles to be stored on private property for up to six months, with unlimited extensions. 

County code currently imposes a $50 fine for an unregistered or inoperable vehicle that’s left on private property.  County Councilwoman Lisa Diller sponsored the ordinance that would have allowed owners to pay $25 to store such vehicles for six months, with the possibility of extensions. 

Supporters felt it would lift a financial burden some residents have been feeling during the difficult economy.  Clark says the legislation is well-intended, but creates the potential for unequal treatment.  He says it’s open-ended and would rely on a “subjective determination” of whether a vehicle is in good condition.

According to county records, there were more than 3,000 complaints in 2010 about unregistered or inoperable vehicles being stored on private property. 

The legislation passed County Council 7-6 on March 8th.  A super-majority vote from 9 of the 13 members would be required to overturn a veto.

Clark says he received numerous phone calls from residents urging him to vote down the bill, and is in favor of drafting new legislation with a chance for more of the public to be heard. 

“While I am empathetic to those struggling financially, the presence of these vehicles is clearly a quality-of-life issue,” Clark says.  “Permitting vehicles to sit idle and deteriorate for six months or more does not serve as an incentive to maintain them in good working condition.”

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