Stationary Engine List

Dealing With Officialdom


| April/May 2002



Stationary Engine

Anyone who owns a vast tract of land, miles from their nearest neighbor with unlimited barn space for storage, should read no further!

For the rest of us, who house our collections at home, in communities where we have to show respect for what our neighbors can see and hear of our hobby, the following discussion may prove of interest. The plea for advice came from a member of the List who lives in Texas, but the advice he received came from Australia, Europe and America it doesn't matter where you live, officialdom can create the same problems! Not only does the List cover great geographical variety, but also a good cross-section of 'day jobs,' including some who have offered their advice who work on the other side of the legal fence!

Today I received a notice from my city regarding my collection of stuff. They say I have 12 days to get rid of it or hide it. It is all behind fencing in my back yard. There is some true 'junk' but most of is genuine antiques. I have two operable steam engines connected to one small boiler and three gas engines. I have a lot of small iron pulleys and vintage valves hanging on my fence. The junk I can move, but the true toys I would like to keep.

Got any suggestions on how to proceed to combat this?

Nicely ask the zoning official to show you the ruling concerning your collection. Chances are it may not apply to you directly and there is some latitude in interpretation. If you can't reach a compromise I would suggest seeing an attorney buddy, if you have one.

How fancy is your neighborhood? Some are ULTRA fussy - you can't park your car in your driveway and you can't hang clothes out to dry. The first step is to check the law. If it's a gray area, the next step is to look at your yard from the perspective of a neighbor who might not love old iron. What does it look like to him? Was he the source of the complaint or was it a busybody elected official doing 'yard inspections?' My guess is someone complained about your yard.