Harrogate cracks down on junk properties

Published 9:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2019

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The City of Harrogate is getting serious about junk properties. Some of those property owners, however, are pushing back. One resident voiced her complaints last week, during the city council meeting. She addressed a recent letter sent to her about “junk” vehicles on her property.

According to the woman, the dump truck and bulldozer in question are worth more than most vehicles sitting on other residential properties. She said the equipment was in good working order, despite not having been used for some time.

“If it’s on your property, and you’re not bothering anybody…. (the letter) says you’ve had numerous complaints. I don’t know who they would be. I would like to know, because you’re supposed to be able to address your accusers,” said the woman.

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She said she had driven around her neighborhood and had found 15 homes within a one-mile radius that had what could truly be considered junk vehicles sitting on their properties.

“I feel like I’m singled out, here,” said the woman.

Alderman Troy Poore suggested that she put her concerns about the other homes “in writing” and submit it to city government.

Mayor Linda Fultz explained the process.

“Anytime we get a complaint, we send a certified letter and we give them notice. We’ve actually taken people to court, because we enforce our ordinances. We want our neighborhoods to look clean and nice,” said Fultz.

The mayor said the dump truck in question is “pointed up” at the edge of the roadway, and that several people pass it during the course of any day.

“It’s not fair if we don’t address it with you and we’ve addressed it with other citizens,” said Fultz.

The woman said a neighbor parks his semi-truck in front of his home every day, blocking half of the road and causing her problems whenever she attempts to pull into her driveway.

“He has torn chunks of road out as big as two chairs, here. And, nobody says anything about that. And, I complained about that,” said the woman.

She pointed to an estimated 10 to 15 abandoned vehicles along Cumberland Road, alone, that should be checked out.

After a bit more discussion, Fultz said the city is requesting that the woman dispose of her bulldozer and truck.

“The only thing I know to do is to get a lawyer, because I feel like I’m being discriminated against. There are people all over that neighborhood that have trucks and cars sitting there that they have not used in years and years. Why should I be singled out, and you pick on me, only,” said the woman.

The council suggested she have her attorney contact the city attorney.

In other action, Harrogate is awaiting notification of approval for $50,000 in FEMA funds. The money will go to repairing a portion of the bank along Nettleton Road, which eroded due to recent flood waters.

Despite “closed road” signage, several drivers continue to use the road. In particular, the roadway has served as a shortcut of sorts for LMU D-COM students who reside in the old hotel, now being used for residential housing.

The council continues to caution those ignoring the signs. Apparently, half the roadway has broken off and slid down the embankment.

The $50,000 is but a portion of the estimated $400,000 needed to do the repairs. The money is contingent upon the county qualifying for a minimum $500,000.

The board unanimously approved, on first reading, two ordinances that will allow a property owner to rezone parcels from residential to commercial. Once passed on final reading, the properties located on Shawanee and Bristol Roads will be used for storage units.

The board briefly spoke about ongoing problems with the sewer system and the routine use by residents of “flushable wipes.” Apparently, the wipes are not as disposable as advertised. The wipes take several days to fully disintegrate. In the meantime, they are finding their way to the sewage system pumps, where they wind around the equipment, causing foul-ups.

The council appointed Teresa Massengill as the municipal court clerk in response to Sandy Cosby agreeing to serve as city judge.

The Harrogate Book Station will be holding its Summer Reading Program the week of June 3-7. The Station is currently undergoing a continuous book sale.

The Annual Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for April 13, beginning at 11 a.m. The Great American Clean Up is slated to occur on the same day.