Junkyard owners must clean up act, or lose license

Jul 8, 2019

The owners of a Hixville Road junkyard have been given one final chance to clean up their act, or lose their license to operate. 

At the July 8 Select Board meeting, owners Manuel and Helen Vieira were before the board seeking a junkyard license. 

They had been operating VACME Auto at 544 Hixville Road for decades, but their license was not renewed in August 2018 after a crackdown on problem properties by the town led to a host of public health and legal issues against the property. 

In February 2018, following a visit to the property, Health Director Chris Michaud and Select Board members raised numerous concerns with the condition of the property and the hundreds of vehicles being stored there, from possible fluids leaking into the environment, to non-automotive junk accumulating on the property.

Working with the property owners, the board and public health officials set deadlines and steps the junkyard operation had to undertake to clean up its act. 

At the July 8 meeting, however, it was noted the site conditions had not changed since 2018, and issues with wetlands permitting and taxes were also uncovered. 

“The most important thing at this point now is we’ve heard this over and over for two years, all of these problems, that persist,” said Select Board Chair Stanley Mickelson. “We’ve given you so much time to correct it.” 

Helen said the property taxes are paid, and Manuel said he had a person on hand who committed to working with him to correcting the wetland issues and moving vehicles to abide by the town’s screening bylaw. 

Being denied a license renewal last year is complicating matters on their end, Helen said, because she is unable to obtain dealer plates without a junkyard license, and thus cannot generate money for their business. 

After a discussion which included testimony from one neighbor in support of the license and one against, the Select Board voted unanimously to grant VACME a provisional license. 

The license will be good until a continued public hearing on October 7. By then, required Conservation Commission action, vehicle moving, and tax issues must be dealt with or the board made it clear they will deny the license for good.