A. Any locality may, by ordinance, provide that it shall be unlawful for any person to keep, except within a fully enclosed building or structure or otherwise shielded or screened from view, on any property zoned for residential or commercial or agricultural purposes any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, as such are defined in § 46.2-100, which is inoperable. Any locality in addition may, by ordinance, limit the number of inoperable motor vehicles which any person may keep outside of a fully enclosed building or structure, but which are shielded or screened from view by covers. As used in this section, an “inoperable motor vehicle” may, at the election of the locality, mean any one or more of the following: (i) any motor vehicle which is not in operating condition; (ii) any motor vehicle which for a period of 60 days or longer has been partially or totally disassembled by the removal of tires and wheels, the engine, or other essential parts required for operation of the vehicle; or (iii) any motor vehicle on which there are displayed neither valid license plates nor a valid inspection decal. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to a licensed business which on June 26, 1970, is regularly engaged in business as an automobile dealer, salvage dealer or scrap processor.
B. Any locality may, by ordinance, further provide that: (i) the owners of property zoned for residential, commercial or agricultural purposes shall, at such time or times as the locality prescribes, remove therefrom any such inoperable motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers that are not kept within a fully enclosed building or structure; (ii) such locality through its own agents or employees may remove any such inoperable motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers, whenever the owner of the premises, after reasonable notice, has failed to do so; (iii) in the event such locality, through its own agents or employees, removes any such motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers, after having given such reasonable notice, such locality may dispose of such motor vehicles, trailers or semitrailers after giving additional notice to the owner of the vehicle; (iv) the cost of any such removal and disposal shall be chargeable to the owner of the vehicle or premises and may be collected by the locality as taxes are collected; and (v) every cost authorized by this section with which the owner of the premises has been assessed shall constitute a lien against the property from which the vehicle was removed, the lien to continue until actual payment of such costs has been made to the locality. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this subsection, if the owner of such vehicle can demonstrate that he is actively restoring or repairing the vehicle, and if it is shielded or screened from view, the vehicle and one additional inoperative motor vehicle that is shielded or screened from view and being used for the restoration or repair may remain on the property.
C. The governing body of any locality may by ordinance provide that violations of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty, which may be imposed in accordance with the provisions of § 15.2-2209.
D. Except as provided in this subsection, adoption of an ordinance pursuant to subsection C shall be in lieu of criminal penalties and shall preclude prosecution of such violation as a misdemeanor. The governing body of any locality may, however, by ordinance provide that such violations shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor in the event three civil penalties have previously been imposed on the same defendant for the same or similar violation, not arising from the same set of operative facts, within a 24-month period. Classifying such subsequent violations as criminal offenses shall preclude the imposition of civil penalties for the same violation.
E. As used in this section, notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, “shielded or screened from view” means not visible by someone standing at ground level from outside of the property on which the subject vehicle is located.
1966, c. 390, § 15.1-11.1; 1970, c. 196; 1972, c. 572; 1973, c. 395; 1982, c. 368; 1985, c. 289; 1986, c. 245; 1989, c. 404; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 829; 2004, cc. 513, 934; 2005, cc. 465, 775.