Lenox officials warn: Clean up the clunkers


LENOX — If you own a junk car visible to the public, be warned: The police are on jalopy patrol.

Aggressive enforcement is underway for a town bylaw requiring junk, dilapidated or unregistered vehicles to be garaged or otherwise screened from public view, Police Chief Stephen E. O'Brien said this week.

"We've canvassing every street in Lenox," he said. Violators will be notified that they have 30 days to comply with the town's regulations.

"If you do not address the problem, a $50-a-day fine is imposed and a town bylaw citation will be issued," the chief said.

Police can pursue residents who ignore citations by seeking a complaint from the Southern Berkshire District Court, O'Brien said.

"All we're asking is that, if you have a junk, dilapidated, unregistered vehicle on your property, that you register it, have it removed for tax purposes, or permanently screen it," he said. "That does not mean with a shrub or a tarp. Put it in a garage, out of public view, or at the end of a long driveway where people from the road can't see it."

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The enforcement action was triggered by an increase in complaints about derelict or unregistered vehicles, O'Brien said. There are at least 50 of them, he estimated. "It deserves our attention with a directed enforcement," he said.

Several nonprofits, such as the American Lung Association (www.lung.org) and Make-A-Wish Foundation (www.wheelsforwishes.org), offer junk vehicle removal services as a tax-deductible donation. Those vehicles are sold by a licensed dealer, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofits.

The primary targets for enforcement include unregistered vehicles, as well as dilapidated vehicles in public view. The town bylaw defines a junk vehicle as "worn-out, cast off or discarded, and ready for dismantling or destruction, or which has been collected or stored for salvage or stripping for parts." The bylaw includes parts from junk vehicles.

"No person or entity, corporate or otherwise, as owner or in control of the premises, shall keep in the open without being screened from public view an unregistered or junk/dilapidated motor vehicle and/or parts thereof in any area of Lenox," the bylaw states. Further details can be viewed at www.townoflenox.com under bylaw Chapter XVI, approved by Town Meeting voters in 1988.

The police enforcement operation will continue "until we've hit every street in town and recorded the number of cars whose owners will receive a notice," O'Brien said. "We're just trying to clean the place up."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.


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