Dear Editor,

I see the City once again entered private property and destroyed personal property. I also noticed that a trampoline and a kayak were left and later a boat that was removed during the abatement, that was full of "stuff" was returned minus the "stuff".

Does anyone see this as a problem?

Nosing around, because it is easy in "V town", people love to talk. Anyway, I was told that the property owner's mother asked that the trampoline be left, she had bought it for her grandchildren. And she knows people!

Does anyone see this as a problem?

That was gracious of The City to have granted the request of the purchaser, and I am glad the kids got to keep their trampoline. But it makes me question how was the decision made that differentiated the trampoline from the zip line or the swings or the multitude of other items that The City deemed to be junk that day?

Does anyone see this as a problem?

How was the decision made to return the boat? Was it because it was someone elses? And again, I am happy they didn't destroy the boat. Weren't there directions for what was to be taken? Whoever was in charge did they have a clear plan of what was junk before they stepped onto the property? At the Osborn's the orders were to take everything, even though they had a court order stating what to take! Seems to me at the Gill location it depended on who was being heard!

Does anyone see this as a problem?

The law states an ordinance must be clear enough so that a person of AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE understands it. We must know what we can or can't do to be legal. Hard for the citizens of Vinton to know what is "Junk" when there is confusion with The City, or whoever is making the calls.

Does anyone see this as a problem?

The City took a truck in a prior abatement, that was licensed and insured and did not meet the legal definition of a "junk vehicle" or meet any of the criteria to be towed. They also asked for their vehicle to be returned, and only after a court date, four-plus months, and more debt were they able to retrieve their vehicle. Obviously, after all that, The City didn't think it was JUNK! They released it, the owners took it home and fixed it. The very thing they asked to be able to do the day it was taken, a couple of hours to get it started.

Does anyone see this as a problem?

If you want pristine yards and all neighboring properties to look alike and conform, there are gated properties, additions with HOA's, and covenants.

It is each person's RIGHT to own property, acquire things, enjoy your property, and be protected from anyone TAKING your things. Just because you don't like something on another person's property doesn't make it junk or a nuisance. Don't look at it! Be neighborly. I happen to know Mr. Gill was going to have a 10x20 shed, his neighbor gave him one. He was told he couldn't have a storage/tool shed without a house?? The City has a tool shed at the gardens, no house, and partly made from pallets and sitting on pallets. Pallets! The City has stated that pallets are junk, reclaimed property, not to be used to build anything!

Does anyone see this as a problem?

The right to own property, acquire possessions, feel safe and protected. Those are our rights as U.S. citizens!

The building off of 8th street has been a "nuisance" for a few years. An unsafe building, condemned. Possibly dangerous?! The owners were directed to put up a fence long ago, fix windows, etc... Numerous steps for the owners to follow, No compliance. Why has The City not acted on that property? It is dangerous? It is wide open-condemned! It truly meets the criteria as a nuisance property.

Does anyone see this as a problem?

Our rights are slowly being taken and we are allowing The Government to take them. If you drive around Vinton I know you see the properties that have "junk" and look bad. Some have looked like that for years. If The City was not wanting to look as if they are targeting certain people, why wouldn't they start at one end of town and clean up neighborhoods as a whole? The lot across from Gill's is a "forest"! Overgrown vegetation, weeds, a lot of garbage. In the fall a fire hazard. A nuisance by Vinton's ordinances. It is someone's backyard. Just because it has always been there doesn't make it right. I don't believe any other property owner could plant a bunch of trees and let the weeds and grass grow in their backyard.

Does anyone see this as a problem?

If you did see a problem with anything in this letter, step up. Talk to the Mayor or your councilperson. Get some answers, it could be you next. There are no definitive criteria for "junk" in Vinton. The City Council is supposed to work for all the citizens in Vinton. They are making up rules for some and misreading their own ordinances. Hopefully, the new attorney can read and understand the ordinances.


Ellen Blake


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VB July 26, 2021, 9:57 pm I SEE THIS AS A PROBLEM!!🖐 I agree with you 100%! Thank you for voicing your opinion, we need more people willing to do so!
BT July 27, 2021, 3:17 pm I do see a problem with this. I believe the Mayor or Council board should at least respond and address your questions. There are buildings still along 218 that are an eye sore to the town. Does anyone else see a problem with this?
PM July 27, 2021, 3:27 pm Pooping in the yard so much that the neighbors can smell it...Does anyone see this as a problem?with that?
TS July 27, 2021, 3:30 pm I would like to take a moment to address Ms. Blake's letter to the editor regarding property rights.
First, thank you to Ms. Blake for her thoughts and voicing her concerns. As is often the case, opening a dialog can often lead to resolution.

First and foremost, the City of Vinton's ordinances most certainly DO (and quite clearly) define what is to be considered a nuisance, junk or junk vehicle. These are available for every citizen of Vinton to read under our City Ordinances, specifically Chapters 50 and 51. These chapters not only define what these terms shall cover, they also clearly define the entire abatement procedure, from original notice, to appeals, to becoming an infraction.
You mentioned in your letter that the law states that ordinances must be clear enough that a person of AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE can understand them. I would suggest that Vinton's ordinances are written in such manner. They are available online @ the City's website, or a printed copy may be obtained at City Hall or the Library. These are not new ordinances, they were not created to single out any individual or neighborhood. They have not changed. As a Councilperson At Large, I have heard concerns from people all over town, ranging from barking dogs and uncaged chickens to broken sidewalks and dilapidated garages and homes. What has changed is that now the City of Vinton has the staffing to work with these types of concerns.

I understand topics such as this are sensitive and viewed differently by different people. The instances that were referred to here have been a matter of public record, including any appeals if they were filed.

I agree with Ms. Blake, if you have a concern, please reach out to a council person, come to a Council meeting and voice your thoughts. We have a time dedicated to "Public Input" at the beginning of each meeting or, if you require an action, please request to be on the agenda. If we do not know your concerns, we cannot be expected to act, and in the same way, if you do not know what Council and City staff have been working on, you should not assume to.

Most Sincerely,
Tami Stark
Vinton City Council, At Large

DL July 27, 2021, 4:09 pm I wish there was more context here. I don't understand what any of those situations are referring to.
BT July 27, 2021, 4:38 pm To Tami Stark, Thank you for a response from the Council At Large. One concern I have and I have voiced it before is our sidewalks and roads. We are Senior Citizens and unable to attend the Council meetings. Would mentioning it on here be enough or may I write a letter asking for a response from the Council?
TS July 27, 2021, 5:55 pm To Betty Thorsvig, I encourage you to communicate your concerns to council in the way that is easiest for you. Perhaps a letter to council at city hall (we all get copies) or a call to a council person. Our numbers are available through city hall. City Hall's number is 472-4707. Thank you for asking about how to reach us.
JO July 27, 2021, 6:18 pm Ms. Stark states that the Ordinances are written in such a way that a person of average intelligence can read and understand.
Ordinance 51.01(7) states that a vehicle that has been operated within the past 30 days is not junk if it is not missing any structural parts. We drove our truck the day before our abatement. I tried to show Dickinson and the street supervisor the ordinance but they said it was Ward's decision, who was not even present, and when I called him he said they were towing it! Period!
So yes I did call him an illiterate, ignorant, M.... F.....! I was upset, and frustrated because I did read the ordinance and it states "or has not been used as an operating vehicle within the past 30 days." Our truck was NOT missing any structural parts. It ran out of gas on Sunday, and Tim thought fuel filter- and with abatement on Monday, he had not yet looked at it. In the end, all it needed was the system rebooted. (unhook the battery, turn the key, hook up the battery).
And Ms. Blake was correct, in the end, they just released the truck. They had taken it to an unsecured lot where it was picked up and dropped by an end loader, scratched and dented, windshield cracked, tools were stolen, some returned by the lot owner. We had to file a replevin for the return of our truck. Took almost 4 months, a few hundred dollars, we were arrested, me for saying "I'm not gonna let you take my truck." And Tim for strapping himself to it.
I ask you to read the ordinances. Decide for yourself if there is room for The City to make their own decisions on "junk", that taking a backhoe and removing everything(tools, toys, wind chimes, quad bikes, yard ornaments, etc...) is the right decision.
We have our abatement recorded, we have the court order, we are willing to show that The City did not follow the court order on either of our abatements. They did what they wanted.
jg July 28, 2021, 7:56 pm I appreciate your support on this matter. Ripping the swings out of the trees was a malicious move. Taking my tools and equipment was uncalled for. It has diminished my ability to perform certain tasks effectively. Affecting my livelihood. The folks behind this may have expected a different reaction. One of anger and bad decisions resulting from that rage. However, I will not be baited into stooping to their level. I feel for the summer help that was sent to do perform this task as I have heard that at least one if not more were reluctant to participate. I'm happy for the two neighbors that were worried about the happenings on my property. I hope that this act brings you peace of mind, even though everyone that had visited the property knows that any illegal activity was forbidden there. I wish nothing but the best for the powers that be that were behind this vindictive violation of my family's rights. You need to heal yourselves and I hope you are able to find the strength to do so. If you need someone to talk to during that process, I'm available. I love you all. Thank you.
EB July 28, 2021, 11:57 pm Ms Stark
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my letter.
I am not disputing the ordinance referring to "junk vehicles", I am asking why Ward, Dickinson, or the street superintendent did not read and understand the ordinance stating what legally is a junk vehicle by Vinton's criteria? Why Osborn's truck was towed and The City refused to return it for almost 4 months. It clearly states in Vinton's ordinance that if the vehicle is not missing any structural parts and has been driven within 30 days it is NOT junk or inoperable. No it did not start, Osborn's were honest in answering that question. Why would they lie, the law should have protected their property because LEGALLY the truck did not meet the criteria as junk or inoperable. It was not impeding the abatement as can be seen on the videos. It was almost the last thing removed. Then after 4 months The City just released it. So was it junk/inoperable and about 4 months is the magic time frame where it can be released for them to take it home and fix it?
Dickinson denied them to use a friend with a tow truck "because you will just bring it back home." They were denied time to look at it even though The City still had several days to access property. This is all heard/seen on the video of their abatement. My opinion is that it was taken to cause damage and anguish to the Osborn's.
Otherwise I believe there is only one other conclusion.
The ordinances do NOT definitively give a definition of junk or a nuisance based on some of the property removed by The City. I don't believe an ordinary person would believe tools, toys, lawn tractor with a snow blade, bird houses, or wind chimes just to name a few items are junk or pose a safety threat. It is at the discretion of whom ever is in charge that day and the property in question.
You worded your response as statements of fact. You also state that there have been no changes in the ordinances. There have been numerous changes.
I again ask that residents read the ordinances. They are online, also there should be a hard copy at City Hall, and at the Public library. The hard copies should also show where there are changes. To question and not just believe it is fact because someone says it is.
Ms Stark I do not presume to know what the City Council is doing. I should have all the information from the meetings that I need to know what The Council is doing. It is the law that there be transparency in the business of local government. Your statement does make me question that transparency, or why would you make that statement?