This is an example Fairfield’s Development Services Department gave as a violation under its updated zoning code changes related to motor vehicle-based businesses approved by City Council on Dec. 2, 2019. PROVIDED
Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided

Fairfield works to decrease unused, wrecked vehicles in plain sight

Auto repair shops, oil change businesses, impound lots and junkyards in Fairfield will have to abide by some new regulations that will take effect next year to decrease unused or wrecked vehicles stored outside.

City Council on Monday modified several zoning codes surrounding motor vehicle-based businesses, as well as revising the city’s kennel zoning regulations and established a zoning code for rain collection barrels.

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Fairfield Planning Manager Erin Lynn said the city has seen changes in the industries in recent years, specifically auto repair businesses. She said while they are operating as a typical auto repair facility, “we’re also seeing them have a secondary business where they buy wrecked vehicles from auctions and they fix them up and sell them.”

Many of the vehicles and parts can sit around for a while, and Lynn said the city believes “this business model is not a good business model in Fairfield” and it’s having a negative impact on surrounding businesses.

Motor vehicle-based business zoning changes approved by City Council include:

• Service facilities primarily performing routine maintenance on motor vehicles, such as oil and tire changes, and related retail sales, are not permitted to store or repair any unlicensed, partially dismantled or inoperable vehicles within the central and general business and downtown districts. These companies can apply for a conditional-use approval within these zoning districts via the city’s Planning Commission.

• Repair garages primarily performing general auto repair and auto body repair, including collision services are permitted to have up to nine unlicensed, partially disassembled, wrecked or inoperable vehicles stored on site. Repair garages are a conditional use in general business and industrial districts.

• Storage areas, or impound lots, were not defined in the zoning code, nor did the code indicate where lots can be located. The code now establishes the property is to be used by a towing company, wrecker or similar company meant for temporary storage of operable vehicles, or inoperable vehicles designated for transport to a repair garage or junkyard. Lots can have up to nine unlicensed, partially disassembled, wrecked or inoperable vehicles stored on site. Storage areas are permitted in the general industrial areas as a conditional use.

• A junkyard is any property containing 10 or more unlicensed, partially disassembled, wrecked or inoperable vehicles kept or stored on site, and requires conditional-use approval in the city’s general industrial district.

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The city created new regulations on rain barrels as the’re becoming more popular. They’re not allowed in front and street-side yards, and no taller than 6 feet from grade or more than 100-gallon capacity. They also must be earth tone colors and interconnected barrels must be screened.

The city will also allow residents to have up to four dogs and/or cats older than 4 months. Any more than 4 dogs and/or cats will be considered a kennel. This will double the number of pets a resident can have in their home or apartment.

Finally, night clubs are now defined as “including but not limited to” bars, lounges, taverns, dance halls and pool halls that serve alcohol and provide entertainment, such as amplified music, dancing, table games, video games and/or other live entertainment activities. Any restaurant providing entertainment after midnight would be required to get a conditional use.

Fairfield had considered zoning changes regarding portable storage units after the city’s Planning Commission rejected them. City officials said staff will revisit the issue in 2020.

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