Town of Trenton, WI
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Trenton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 174.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 212.
Nuisances — See Ch. 280.
Abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 364.
[Adopted 11-7-1989 as § 8-2-8 of the 1989 Code]
In order to promote the public safety, health, welfare and enjoyment of public travel, to preserve and enhance the scenic beauty of lands bordering public highways, and to promote prosperity, economic well-being and the general welfare of the Town of Trenton, it is hereby declared to be in the public interest to regulate and restrict the storage and parking of accumulated junk, motor vehicles, appliances and parts thereof that constitute a public nuisance. This article is not intended to create undue hardship to any area within the Town.
No person, firm, or corporation shall park, store, leave, or permit the parking or storing of accumulated junk, inoperable motor vehicles, appliances or parts thereof of any kind which are in an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled, rusted, or inoperative condition or which are not currently registered or licensed to the owner or occupant or family member of the owner of property within the Town contrary to the declaration of purpose in § 302-1.
Terms used in this article are defined as follows:
ACCUMULATED
A collection or increase in quantity or number that creates an unsightly heap or mass contrary to the declaration of purpose as stated in this article or that constitutes a junkyard.
APPLIANCE
Any stove, washer, dryer, refrigerator or other appliance which is no longer operable in the sense for which it was manufactured.
AUTOMOBILE GRAVEYARD
An establishment or property which is maintained, used, or operated for storing, keeping, buying or selling wrecked, scrapped, ruined, or dismantled motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts. Ten or more such vehicles constitute an automobile graveyard.
DISMANTLED
To strip of equipment or to take apart.
ILLEGAL JUNKYARD
A junkyard which is established, expanded, or maintained in violation of Town of Trenton ordinances and is not in strict conformity with § 175.25(2), (3), (4) and (5), Wis. Stats.
INOPERABLE
In such a state of physical or mechanical ruin as to be incapable of propulsion, or which is otherwise not in safe or legal condition for operation due to missing parts, or is not currently registered or licensed for operation on public highways.
JUNK
Any old scrap metal, iron, alloy, synthetic material or any junked, ruined, dismantled, inoperable, or wrecked motor vehicle, machinery or parts thereof.
JUNKYARD
Any place which is owned, operated, or used for storing, keeping, processing, buying or selling junk, including automobile graveyards, scrap metal processors, auto wrecking, auto recycling, salvage yards, used parts yards and temporary storage of motor vehicle bodies or parts waiting disposal.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle which is self-propelled by a combustion engine or motor.
This article shall not apply to:
A. 
Any vehicle enclosed within a building on private property, provided that such storage does not constitute a fire or safety hazard.
B. 
Any vehicle, equipment, or appliance kept in connection with a business enterprise properly operated in full compliance with ordinances of the Town of Trenton and maintained in such a way as not to constitute a public nuisance.
C. 
Any motor vehicle in operable condition specifically adapted or designed for operation on drag strips or raceways not exceeding one vehicle per parcel.
D. 
Any currently registered vehicle which is in the process of being repaired by its owner or a family member on property of the owner or occupant, provided that the time for such outdoor repair shall not exceed 30 days.
E. 
Situations where the Town Board or Chief of Police issues temporary permits with a possible thirty-day extension to comply with this article where exceptional facts and circumstances warrant such extension.
A. 
Whenever the Town Board, Town Chief of Police, Building Inspector or other law enforcement officer shall find probable cause as to violations described herein upon private property within the Town, the owner and/or occupant of said property on which violations are apparent shall be notified of such violations of this article.
B. 
If such violations are not abated within 20 days from the date of notice, this may be cause to be issued a citation to the property owner and/or the occupant of said property.
C. 
The Town shall have any and all other remedies afforded by the Wisconsin state statutes for removal and to bring into compliance said properties found to be in violation of this article, in addition to the forfeitures and cost of prosecution (§§ 66.0139 and 175.25, Wis. Stats.).
D. 
Any costs incurred under provisions provided in Subsection C above by the Town shall be recovered from the owner and/or occupant. However, if the owner of any vehicle, appliance or accumulation of junk cannot readily be found, the cost of such removal shall be charged to the property from which it is removed, which charges shall be entered as a special charge on the tax roll, pursuant to § 66.0627, Wis. Stats.
E. 
Each day that an accumulation of vehicles, appliances or junk as herein defined shall be parked or stored contrary to the provisions hereof shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
F. 
Any vehicles permitted to be parked or stored under this article may also be required to comply with the Town Zoning Code and any required screening.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 380, Zoning.
Any person who shall interfere with the enforcement of any of the provisions of this article and shall be found guilty thereof shall be subject to a penalty as provided in Chapter 1, § 1-5 of this Code. Each motor vehicle or appliance involved shall constitute a separate offense.
[Adopted 11-7-1989 as §§ 6-1-2 to 6-1-4 of the 1989 Code]
A. 
The Town Clerk shall annually, on or before May 15, publish as required by state law a notice that every person is required by law to destroy all noxious weeds on lands in the Town which he owns, occupies or controls. A joint notice with other towns or municipalities may be utilized.
B. 
If the owner or occupant shall neglect to destroy any weeds as required by such notice, then the Weed Commissioner of the Town shall give five days' written notice by mail to the owner or occupant of any lands upon which the weeds shall be growing to the effect that said Weed Commissioner, after the expiration of the five-day period, will proceed to destroy or cause to be destroyed all such weeds growing upon said lands and that the cost thereof will be assessed as a tax upon the lands upon which such weeds are located under the provisions of § 66.0407, Wis. Stats. In case the owner or occupant shall further neglect to comply within such five-day notice, then the Weed Commissioner shall destroy such weeds or cause them to be destroyed in the manner deemed to be the most economical method, and the expense thereof, including the cost of billing and other necessary administrative expenses, shall be charged against such lots and be collected as a special tax thereon.
C. 
As provided for in § 66.0407(2), Wis. Stats., the Town shall require that all noxious weeds shall be destroyed prior to the time in which such plants would mature to the bloom or flower state. The growth of noxious weeds in excess of eight inches in height from the ground surface shall be prohibited within the Town corporate limits. Noxious weeds shall include any weed, grass or similar plant growth which, if allowed to pollinate, would cause or produce hay fever in human beings or would cause a skin rash through contact with the skin.
(1) 
Noxious weeds, as defined in this section and in § 302-9, shall include but not be limited to the following:
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Ambrosia trifida (great ragweed)
Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge)
Convolvulus arvensis (creeping jenny) (field bind weed)
Tragopogon dubius (goat's beard)
Rhus radicans (poison ivy)
Cirsium vulgaries (bull thistle)
Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip)
Arctium minus (burdock)
Xanthium strumarium (cocklebur)
Amaranthus retroflexus (pigweed)
Chenopodium album (common lambsquarter)
Rumex Crispus (curled dock)
Cannabis sativa (hemp)
Plantago lancellata (English plantain)
(2) 
Noxious grasses, as defined in this section and in § 302-9, shall include but not be limited to the following:
Agrostia alba (Redtop)
Dactylis glomerata (Orchard)
Phleum pratensis (Timothy)
Poa pratensis (Kentucky Blue)
Sorghum halepensei (Johnson)
Setaria (Foxtail)
(3) 
Noxious weeds are also the following plants and other rank growth:
Ragweed
Thistles
Smartweed
Dandelions (over 10 inches in height)
Milkweed (over 10 inches in height)
A. 
Natural lawns defined. "Natural lawn" as used in this section shall include common species of grass and wildflowers native to North America which are designed and purposely cultivated to exceed 12 inches in height from the ground. Specifically excluded in natural lawns are the noxious grasses and weeds identified in § 302-7 of this article. The growth of a natural lawn in excess of 12 inches in height from the ground surface on any parcel zoned residential shall be prohibited within the Town corporate limits unless a natural lawn management plan is approved and a permit is issued by the Town as set forth in this section. Natural lawns shall not contain litter or debris and shall not harbor undesirable wildlife.
B. 
Natural lawn management plan.
(1) 
"Natural lawn management plan" as used in this section shall mean a written plan relating to the management and maintenance of a lawn which contains a legal description of lawn upon which the planted grass will exceed 12 inches in length, a statement of intent and purpose for the lawn, a detailed description of the vegetational types, plants and plant succession involved, and the specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
(2) 
Property owners who wish to plant and cultivate a natural lawn must submit their written plan and related information on the form provided by the Town. "Property owner" shall be defined to include the legal title holder and/or the beneficial owner of any such lot according to most current Town records. Natural lawn management plans shall only indicate the planting and cultivating of natural lawns on property legally owned by the property owner. Applicants are strictly prohibited from developing a natural lawn on any Town-owned property, including street or road rights-of-way. This shall include at a minimum a strip not less than 10 feet adjacent to the street where there is no sidewalk, whether the area is under public or private ownership. In addition, natural lawns shall not be permitted within 10 feet of the abutting property owner's property unless waived in writing by the abutting property owner on the side so affected. Such waiver is to be affixed to the lawn management plan.
(3) 
Any subsequent property owner who abuts an approved natural lawn may revoke the waiver thereby requiring the owner of the natural lawn to remove the natural lawn that is located in the ten-foot section abutting the neighboring property owner. Such revocation shall be put in writing and presented to the Town Clerk by the subsequent abutting property owner. Upon receiving the written request to revoke the original waiver, the Town Board shall contact the owner of the approved natural lawn and direct the owner to remove the natural lawn located in the ten-foot section abutting the neighboring property owner. The Town Board shall revise the approved natural lawn management plan permit accordingly. The owner of the approved natural lawn shall be required to remove the ten-foot section abutting the neighboring property owner within 20 days of receipt of the written notification from the Town, provided that the notification is received sometime between May 1 and November 1. Property owners who receive notification from the Town between November 1 and April 30 shall be required to remove the ten-foot section abutting the neighboring property owner no later than May 20 following receipt of the notification.
C. 
Application process.
(1) 
Property owners interested in applying for permission to establish a natural lawn shall obtain and complete an application form available from the Town Clerk. The completed application shall include a natural lawn management plan. Upon submitting a completed application, a nonrefundable filing fee as shown on the schedule of deposits, bonds and fees will be assessed by the Town. Upon receiving payment, copies of the completed application shall be mailed by the Town to each of the owners of record, as listed in the office of the Town Assessor, who are owners of the property situated wholly or in part within 300 feet of the boundaries of the properties for which the application is made. If within 15 calendar days of mailing the copies of the complete application to the neighboring property owners the Town receives written objections from 51% or more of the neighboring property owners, the Town Clerk shall immediately deny the application. "Neighboring property owners" shall be defined as all those property owners who are located within 300 feet of the proposed natural lawn site.
(2) 
If the property owner's application is in full compliance with the natural lawn management plan requirements and less than 51% of the neighboring property owners provide written objections, the Town Clerk shall issue permission to install a natural lawn.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
D. 
Application for appeal. The property owner may appeal the Town Clerk's decision to deny the natural lawn permit request to the Town Board at an open meeting. All applications for appeal shall be submitted within 15 calendar days of the notice of denial of the natural lawn management plan. The decision rendered by the Town Board shall be final and binding.
E. 
Safety precautions for natural grass areas.
(1) 
When, in the opinion of the Fire Chief, the presence of a natural lawn may constitute a fire or safety hazard due to weather and/or other conditions, the Fire Chief may order the cutting of natural lawns to a safe condition. As a condition of receiving approval of the natural lawn permit, the property owner shall be required to cut the natural lawn within the three days upon receiving written direction from the Fire Chief.
(2) 
Natural lawns shall not be removed through the process of burning unless stated and approved as one of the management and maintenance techniques in the natural lawn management plan. The Fire Chief shall review all requests to burn natural lawns and shall determine if circumstances are correct and all applicable requirements have been fulfilled to ensure public safety. Burning of natural lawns shall be strictly prohibited unless a written permit to burn is issued by the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief shall establish a written list of requirements for considering each request to burn natural lawns, thereby ensuring the public safety. In addition, the property owner requesting permission to burn the natural lawn shall produce evidence of property damage and liability insurance identifying the Town as a party insured. A minimum amount of acceptable insurance shall be $300,000.
F. 
Revocation of an approved natural lawn management plan permit. The Town Chairperson, upon the recommendation of the Weed Commissioner, shall have the authority to revoke an approved natural lawn management plan permit if the owner fails to maintain the natural lawn or comply with the provisions set forth in this section. Notice of intent to revoke an approved natural lawn management plan permit shall be appealable to the Town Board. All applications for appeal shall be submitted within 15 calendar days of receipt of the written notice of intent to revoke the approved natural lawn management plan. Failure to file an application for appeal within the 15 calendar days shall result in the revoking of the natural lawn management plan permit. All written applications for appeal filed within the fifteen-calendar-day requirement shall be reviewed by the Town Board in an open meeting. The decision rendered by the Town Board shall be final and binding.
G. 
Public nuisance defined; abatement after notice.
(1) 
The growth of a natural lawn as defined in this section shall be considered a public nuisance unless a natural lawn management plan has been filed and approved and a permit is issued by the Town as set forth in this section. Violators shall be served with a notice of public nuisance by certified mail to the last known mailing address of the property owner.
(2) 
If the person so served with a notice of public nuisance violation does not abate the nuisance within 10 days, the enforcement officer may proceed to abate such nuisance, keeping an account of the expense of the abatement, and such expense shall be charged to and paid by such property owner. Notice of the bill for abatement of the public nuisance shall be mailed to the owner of the premises and shall be payable within 10 calendar days from receipt thereof. Within 60 days after such costs and expenses are incurred and remain unpaid, the Town Clerk shall enter those charges onto the tax roll as a special tax as provided by state statute.
(3) 
The failure of the Town Clerk to record such claim or to mail such notice or the failure of the owner to receive such notice shall not affect the right to place the Town expense on the tax rolls for unpaid bills for abating the public nuisance as provided for in this section.
H. 
Violations and penalties.
(1) 
Any person, firm or corporation who or which does not abate the nuisance within the required time period or who or which otherwise violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to the general penalty found in Chapter 1, § 1-5 of this Code.
(2) 
In addition to any penalties herein provided, the Town may issue stop-work orders upon owners of lots where work is unfinished under a previously issued building permit for any violation of this section.
A. 
Purpose. This section is adopted due to the unique nature of the problems associated with lawns, grasses and noxious weeds being allowed to grow to excessive length in the Town of Trenton.
B. 
Public nuisance declared. The Town Board finds that lawns, grasses and noxious weeds on nonagricultural lots or parcels of land, as classified under Chapter 380, Zoning, of this Code, within the Town of Trenton which exceed eight inches in length adversely affect the public health and safety of the public in that they tend to emit pollen and other discomforting bits of plants, constitute a fire hazard and a safety hazard in that debris can be hidden in the grass, interfere with the public convenience and adversely affect property values of other land within the Town. For that reason, any nonagricultural lawn, grass or weed on a lot or other parcel of land which exceeds eight inches in length is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, except for property located in a designated floodplain area and/or wetland area or where the lawn, grass or weed is part of a natural lawn approved pursuant to § 302-8 above.
C. 
Nuisances prohibited. No person, firm or corporation shall permit any public nuisance as defined in Subsection B above to remain on any premises owned or controlled by him within the Town.
D. 
Inspection. The Weed Commissioner or a sworn Trenton police officer or his/her designee shall inspect or cause to be inspected all premises and places within the Town to determine whether any public nuisance as defined in Subsection B above exists.
[Amended 9-15-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-09-01]
E. 
Abatement of nuisance.
(1) 
If the Weed Commissioner or a sworn Trenton police officer shall determine with reasonable certainty that any public nuisance as defined in Subsection B above exists, he/she shall immediately cause written notice to be served that the Town proposes to have the lot grass or lawn cut so as to conform to this section and § 302-7.
[Amended 9-15-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-09-01]
(2) 
The notice shall be served at least five days prior to the date of the hearing and shall be mailed or served on the owner of the lot or parcel of land or, if he/she is not known and there is a tenant occupying the property, then on the tenant, of the time and place at which the hearing will be held.
F. 
Due process hearing. If the owner believes that his/her grasses or weeds are not a nuisance, he/she may request a hearing before the Town Board. The request for said hearing must be made in writing to the Town Clerk's office within the five days set forth in the Weed Commissioner's or a sworn Trenton police officer's notice. Upon application for the hearing, the property owner must deposit a bond in an amount as shown in the schedule of deposits, bonds and fees. If a decision is rendered in the property owner's favor, the bond will be returned to the property owner. If the property owner fails to appear for the hearing or if the decision is rendered against the property owner, the deposit shall be forfeited and applied to the cost of Town personnel abating the nuisance, if necessary. When a hearing is requested by the owner of the property, a hearing by the Town Board shall be held within seven days from the date of the owner's request. The property in question will not be mowed by the Town until such time as the hearing is held by the Board. At the hearing, the owner may appear in person or by his/her attorney, may present witnesses in his/her own behalf and may cross-examine witnesses presented by the Town as well as subpoena witnesses for his/her own case. At the close of the hearing, the Town Board shall make its determination in writing specifying its findings, facts, and conclusions. If the Town Board determines that a public nuisance does exist, the Board shall order the Weed Commissioner to mow the property in question unless the property has been mowed by the owner within 48 hours of the Town Board's decision. If the owner does not abate the nuisance within the described 48 hours, the Weed Commissioner shall cause the same nuisance to be abated and cost in excess of the forfeited fee assessed accordingly.
[Amended 9-15-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-09-01]
G. 
Town's option to abate nuisance. In any case where the owner, occupant or person in charge of the property shall fail to cut his/her lawn, grass or weeds as set forth above, then and in that event the Town may elect to cut said lawn, grass or weeds as follows:
(1) 
The written notice required in Subsection E shall inform said person that in the event of his/her failure to abate the nuisance within the prescribed time, the Town shall abate the same and the cost thereof shall be assessed to the property owner as a special charge.
(2) 
The Town shall cut or cause to be cut all grass and weeds from the subject's property and shall charge the expenses of so doing at a rate as established by resolution by the Town Board. The charges shall be set forth in a statement to the Town Clerk who, in turn, shall mail the same to the owner, occupant or person in charge of the subject premises. If said statement is not paid in full within 30 days thereafter, the Town Clerk shall enter the charges in the tax roll as a special tax against said lot or parcel of land, and the same shall be collected in all respects like other taxes upon real estate, or as provided under § 66.0907(3)(f), Wis. Stats.
H. 
Violations and penalties.
[Added 9-15-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-09-01]
(1) 
Any person, firm or corporation who or which does not abate the nuisance within the required time period or who or which otherwise violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to the general penalty found in Chapter 1, § 1-5, of this Code.
(2) 
Any sworn Trenton police officer may issue a citation for a violation of this section concurrently with the abatement of nuisance process set out above.