Junk vehicles still draw neighbors’ ire

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lincoln County’s litter law is about to be put to thetest.

Supervisors on Friday will travel to the Greenwood Lane property ofJohn Lenoir to determine whether his collection of dozens of junkedautomobiles violates the Lincoln County Litter Ordinance of 2001.County leaders used the ordinance earlier this year to force Lenoirto pull several of the old automobiles back from the roadside afterhis neighbors lodged a complaint with the board, but the homeownerson Greenwood Lane are not satisfied with simply rearranging thejunk.

They want it gone completely.

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“He’s still not in compliance with the county litter ordinance,”said Dr. Dorothy Alexander, who has been her community’s leadrepresentative in seeking action on the Lenoir property. “He movedall of the cars off the front, and that’s a godsend … but what hedid with the other 50 percent is just scatter them outeverywhere.”

Alexander and her neighbors have complained about Lenoir’s propertyto supervisors on several occasions since 2003, claiming the junkedcars detract from local property values and pose a public healthhazard as breeding grounds for rats and snakes. Supervisors havenever acted against Lenoir until earlier this June, when thelandowner allowed a demolition company to dump concrete refuse fromthe Carver Heights demolition company in Brookhaven on hisproperty.

The dumping stopped and the refuse was removed, and Lenoir – whowas not present at Monday’s board meeting – complied withsupervisors’ request he remove the junked cars from his propertyline by the road. The removal was enough for the county, but notenough for Greenwood residents, who are putting pressure onsupervisors to interpret their law to the letter.

The nine-year-old litter ordinance is an act “establishing acomprehensive program for Lincoln County … to control litter,refuse, and unauthorized dumps,” and it defines litter as severalthings, including “abandoned automobiles.” The law’s stated intentis to “promote a clean, healthy, safe and attractive environment inwhich to live.”

The law applies to private property, declaring any unauthorizeddump to be a public nuisance and subject to removal. A strictinterpretation of the law could open up dozens of new cases forsupervisors, who preside over a county with relaxed land usagerules.

Board attorney Bob Allen said supervisors were satisfied withLenoir’s rearrangement of his junk.

“That ordinance wasn’t written to be a zoning ordinance and affecteveryone’s property value, it was meant to address health hazards,”he said. “The board did not find (Lenoir’s property) was a healthhazard.”

But Alexander wants the ordinance executed to the fullest.

“When you look at the ordinance, it was written for litter. Ifwe’re not going to be in compliance with it, it needs to berewritten and readopted,” she said. “All in all, he’s still inviolation of the ordinance.”

Alexander was not satisfied when supervisors board president DougMoak sought a compromise to the standoff, wanting to know how farback Lenoir had pulled his cars.

“Your ordinance doesn’t specify footage. It says, ‘litter,'” shesaid.

Allen admitted the litter ordinance might need updating.

In the meantime, all five supervisors will visit Lenoir’s propertyat midmorning Friday to determine if his junked cars constitute apublic health hazard. A decision is expected at the next boardmeeting on Dec. 20.