Lafayette County property owner has 30 days to clean up tires, vehicles

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors gave a property owner 30 days to clean up their land or face legal consequences.

On Monday, the Board held a public hearing to determine if the unclean conditions at 37 CR 427 are a menace to public health, safety and welfare.

The supervisors unanimously voted that it was.

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Director of Planning Services Joel Hollowell said the county first got involved with the owners of the property back in 2020 when there was a sewage issue. That was rectified but Hollowell said he did recall seeing tires in the gully at that time.

The property is owned by Willard Denham and occupied by his daughter Connie Denham and her boyfriend, Dean Edwards.

After some back and forth and complaints from a neighbor in 2021 and 2022 about the tires, several inoperable cars and other debris on the property,

Hollowell said it appeared in February 2022 that the property had been cleaned up fairly well and he had not received any other complaints until April 2 of this year when the same neighbor called the county claiming the tires, cars and other debris was again, excessive.

Hollowell went to the neighboring property and could see an abundance of tires. During a phone call to Denham, Hollowell claimed Edwards got on the phone, became argumentative and hung up on him.

Hollowell returned on April 5 to serve Edwards with a citation and told him he had seven days to get rid of the tires. Hollowell said he’d grant Denham more time to clean the rest of the property if he complied and cleaned up the tires within seven days.

Hollowell and deputies from the sheriff’s office returned to the property on April 12.

“When I arrived on the scene, Mr. Edwards was standing in the middle of the street, as if he was preparing for a fight,” Hollowell said in the meeting. “He pulled his jacket off, threw it on the ground and gestured to me to ‘bring it on.’ And so the sheriff’s deputies dealt with him as I was inspecting the property.”

Hollowell returned to the property on May 5 and said there did seem to be some improvement.

“But certainly not the type of improvement that should have been done in the last two weeks,” Hollowell said.

Hollowell said the tires were filled with standing water and mosquito larvae, which is a public health concern. He also said that there was obviously a tire and car repair business going on at the property, which is against county regulations for properties in the A1, rural zoning district.

Denham and Edwards have denied there is a business and that all the cars and tires were “personal use” and fixing them was just a hobby for Edwards.

Connie Denham told the Board she felt she and her family were being singled out unfairly because Hollowell is related to the neighbor who has made the complaints.

Connie said that since April 12, they have hauled off three loads of tires and they plan to remove more.

She said she was told by Environmental Services that she could have the tires as long as they were neatly stacked without standing water in them and that they could have scrap metal as long as they were in neat piles. She said she felt she and her family were doing what they could to satisfy Hollowell.

Supervisor Brent Larson told Connie that this wasn’t about satisfying Hollowell but satisfying the county laws.

“Joel is upholding the laws of Lafayette County,” Larson said.

Edwards asked if he could apply for a business to have a scrap yard. Hollowell said scrap yards are not allowed in the A1 zoning district. He said inoperable vehicles are also not allowed to be openly stored on A1-zoned property but could be stored inside of a shed or garage.

The Board voted to require the property be cleaned up within 30 days. If not, the Board could vote to fine the property owner and have county crews clean up the property at the cost of the property owner.