Property owner charged with violating zoning law

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Brookhaven man was arrested over the weekend on charges ofviolating zoning ordinances after city officials asked him onnumerous occasions to clean up three properties in his name.

Lawrence Smith Sr., owner of Big Bargain Used Car Lot and aresidence at 215 Railroad St., as well as being the contact personfor the Emmanuel Temple Church property, was most recentlyinstructed by the city board of aldermen to remove old cars andappliances and general debris from his properties at a March 12public hearing. At that meeting, he was given 30 days to show agood faith effort to get the properties up to standards ordisciplinary measures would be taken.

Smith was arrested by the Brookhaven Police Department on Sundayon a city warrant for misdemeanor violations of zoning ordinances.He bonded out shortly thereafter.

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“It’s in the hands of city court,” said City Attorney JoeFernald. “I don’t have any input, control, or any statements aboutmatters that are before the judiciary.”

The City Inspector’s office filed an affidavit on May 9 allegingthat Smith had not complied with his end of the bargain arrangedwith the city at the hearing.

The affidavit, brought against Smith and Big Bargain Auto Sales,said that Smith is “willfully, purposely knowingly and unlawfully”in violation of city zoning codes at 109 Main St., which is theaddress of Big Bargain Auto.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron said a petition has been filedby neighborhood residents asking that Smith clean up hisproperties.

“This is something that’s been ongoing for several years,”Cameron said. “For more than six or seven years, we’ve been tryingto get him to comply with ordinances about cleaning up his propertyand removing the old cars. We had a public hearing and he told ushe was going to get it cleaned up, and nothing ever came ofit.”

Attempts to reach Lawrence Smith for comment wereunsuccessful.

Cameron said he is fully in favor of the action by the citybecause something has to be done.

“We decided to take steps in order to get the matter taken careof,” he said. “I strongly agree we have to do something to get theneighborhood cleaned up.”

While he said he isn’t happy that Smith was arrested, Cameronsaid he felt the people of his ward deserved to see their concernsaddressed.

“They’re trying to improve their neighborhood,” he said. “I’mstill sorry there had to be an arrest made to get it done. I hatefor that to happen to anybody.”