Tupelo cracks down on outdoor storage violations

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A West Main Street business that had set its broken merchandise outside and declared it yard art was swiftly warned by city code enforcement officers to remove it or face fines.
The owner knew better, said Sherrie Cochran, who enforces Tupelo’s commercial code. He was just trying to skirt the law and avoid commercial garbage hauling fees. Since then, the “yard art” has disappeared.
Business owners and residents alike must comply with the city’s rules on outdoor and open storage. When it comes to commercial properties, legitimate business equipment stored outside must be screened by an opaque fence or landscaping, said Marilyn Vail, code enforcement officer. That goes for garbage containers, too.
If the items are broken or not related to the business, they have to go.
For homeowners, the code forbids outdoor storage of any kind of appliances, upholstered furniture or item designed primarily for indoor use. Outdoor doesn’t just mean the yard; it means the carport and porch areas.
The code also bans laundry hung on a fence, porch or clothesline that’s visible from the street, said Debra Byrd, code enforcement officer.
“If it’s in a closed garage,” Byrd said, ” you can do whatever you want, as long as we can’t see it.”
The code does allow property owners to store products outside in certain situations. For example, someone working on a roof can store tools, shingles and other materials outside as long as the work is in progress. Once the work stops, the products need to go – or be stored behind opaque fencing or landscaping.
But “it doesn’t apply to junk, garbage or rubbish,” Byrd said. “You can’t store anything like that.”
Violators will get warnings first, but repeat offenders can face up to $1,000 in fines and jail time.

Click video to hear audio