John Sadinsky plans to appeal his case at the county level, after the Monroe Township Board of Zoning Appeals (BPA) Tuesday upheld a decision that he is in violation of its junk vehicle policy.
Sadinsky's case had been continued by the township since March 23, so the board could verify whether a resolution related to junk vehicles was effective prior to Dec. 22, 2009, when Sadinsky was charged with the violations. On that date, he was sent a letter by prosecuting attorney James Miller noting zoning violations related to the number and type of vehicles being stored on his property.
Zoning inspector Bill Smith determined Sadinsky in violation of the resolution, having 20 to 25 cars in a designated impound area that has a conditional use variance permit providing for no more than six cars. In addition, Smith estimated that the Sadinsky property has more than 100 vehicles that meet the definition of junk motor vehicles.
As defined by Ohio Revised Code (ORC) "junk motor vehicle" has to meet the following criteria: three model years old, or older; apparently inoperable; and extensively damaged, including, but not limited to, any of the following: missing wheels, tires, engine or transmission.
Bob Thomas, president of the BZA, said the law had been adhered to in a timely fashion, and the board had further questions for Sadinsky, including a request to inspect his property.
"We feel there was a procedural problem with the trustees," said Wayne Barb, a BZA member. "We're attempting to come to the right decision. We need permission to do it."
At the advice of his attorney Terry Treneff, Sadinsky denied that request.
"Whatever should have been done should have been done before it came to you," Treneff told the BZA. "You put us in an awkward position."
If there was a procedural problem, he said the BZA should dismiss the case and start over.
Sadinsky has operated Reliable Towing and Recovery at 7707 Green Mill Road for more than 15 years.
"We still haven't been told which vehicles are the problems," Sadinsky told ThisWeek. "I'm not for junk cars. It's part of my business, helping the township do what they're doing. You can't kill the messenger. We're helping them do what they're trying to accomplish. Nothing has changed since we got our permit. I have an exemption."
Miller said the township issued Sadinsky a violation for vehicles outside the towing business.
"He has been provided notices and talked to the township about getting junk vehicles off the property that doesn't pertain to the business," Miller said.
Township trustee Joey Robertson said the board hasn't made a decision concerning any reduction in fines, but Sadinsky's bill would be up to $8,600 based on a $100-a-day fine for the violation.
Although the ultimate goal is for township residents to be in compliance with junk vehicles laws, Robertson said the township has spent countless hours and a good deal of money on the effort.
"I have faith in the judicial system," Sadinsky said. "When it gets to a judge, I think it will be cleared up. Towing companies are exempt. This is how I provide for my family. I can't afford to do this. It has put a huge burden on me and my family, but I don't have a choice."
Sadinsky received a zoning violation notice from Smith on Jan. 13, 2009, alleging that the towing service was violating two of six provisions/limitations included as part of the original permit. Those were that Sadinsky was not to expand his part-time business and that there be a limited number of cars stored in the impound lot.
In March 2009, the BZA unanimously declared the towing and recovery service was not in violation of a conditional use permit granted by the board in September 1995.
Attorney Larry Shafer, who said he was called on by township trustees to help address issues with junk cars, said legislation went into effect in March 2008. Shafer said the statute essentially provides clearer guidelines for the identification/definition of junk cars and procedures for having them removed from property.
Shafer verified that towing and storage businesses are exempt from the statute, and noted that Sadinsky's property claims the only such title in Monroe Township.