Members of the Town Board are considering the enactment of a local law that would require the licensing of junkyards and would establish penalties for improper operation of a junkyard.
The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed local law at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 in the Town Hall, 7105 Lockport Road.
Supervisor Steven C. Richards said he did not want to drive anybody out of business, but "I'm on a mission to clean up the town. . . . Our town is being trashed by the current junkyards."
Richards also said that local junkyards had not been policed properly.
In 1982, the Town Board zoned out any new junkyards, and the town never issued any more permits for them, said Richards. However, the state controls those who dismantle automobiles and it kept issuing state licenses to the junkyards here, he said.
One big problem with the junkyards, said Richards, is that they have been operating on public rights of way on some streets in the Highland Heights area in the northwestern section of the Town of Niagara.
"I feel that no other towns in the country are putting up with what we're putting up with here, and either they're going to clean up or get out. And, I'm not going to allow our town to be trashed by people who don't want to follow the law," Richards said.
The proposed law states that junkyards should not be operated in a way that is offensive to the neighborhood. The town's code enforcement officer would be empowered to remove junk if necessary. Operators would have to post a bond and pay an annual fee of $100 in order to operate here.
The law would provide for maximum fines of $500 and up to 15 days in jail for each violation. In addition, the operator's license could be revoked.
Richards said, "I'm forcing them to act like responsible businessmen. . . . I don't want to take anybody's livelihood away. All I want them to do is act responsible and follow the law."
Fred Clark, the town's building inspector, said there are five or six junkyards in the town, but he did not know how many have licenses to dismantle vehicles.
State law says that junkyards should not be less than 500 feet from a place of public assembly, that they must have an eight foot high fence around them, and junk inside of the fence cannot be higher than the fence, said Clark. There also must be access for firefighters.