Litter law violations considered

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

Three cases of landowners not in compliance with Carter County's litter law were brought before the county's Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday afternoon.
   One case with two parcels of land that are in violation was sent on to the next Carter County Commission meeting with the recommendation to take legal action against the landowner, Barrett Swecker. Planning Director Chris Schuettler and Codes Enforcement Officer Chris Gallagher said Swecker owns two pieces of property that violate the litter law, because of inoperable machinery, inoperable automobiles, and overgrown weeds.
   The two locations, one on U.S. Highway 91 and in Forest Hills Subdivision, have been in violation since last June. Schuettler and Gallagher have spoken with Swecker about the issues and written letters to him notifying him of the time limit imposed to clean up the properties.
   Schuettler was careful to advise the board that Swecker was taken to court twice for the same problems. According to Schuettler, the landowner told the judge that he would tag some of the inoperable vehicles and clean up the property. However, instead of cleaning up one piece of property he merely moved some of the materials onto the other property, about 3 miles away.
   "There was some progress made in February (2004). But he has done this before. He has moved it around and then restocked it again," said Schuettler.
   The committee agreed with Schuettler's recommendation and the item will be sent to the County Commission for further action by sending the case to County Attorney George Dugger.
   The committee reviewed another case involving property on Sinking Creek Road, owned by Alice Johnson. Johnson does not actually live on the property in question, but she is the owner. It is unclear who lives in the house, but Schuettler believes the two men are related to Johnson, who inherited the property.
   She was informed of the litter law violations on June 18, 2003 and was given numerous extensions to clean up the property. Both Schuettler and Gallagher did say that some progress had been made. However, in the recent past, a certified letter was sent to her stating the existing non-compliance and to tell her of the upcoming Health and Welfare Committee meeting.
   The letter could not be delivered by the United States Postal Service and was marked "Undeliverable. Person does not live at this address." Schuettler said he does think that Johnson still lives at her current address, but is trying to avoid the letter.
   Commissioner Jo Ann Blankenship felt that since Johnson had attempted to clean up some of the property that another extension might help her bring the land into compliance. The motion was approved by the committee to send another letter to Johnson commending her on the previous cleanup efforts and allowing her more time to reconsider the violations at the June meeting.
   Charles Allen accepted his certified letter for the violations on his property on Wilbur Dam Road and appeared before the committee to explain his situation.
   "I haven't gotten as much done as I intended to, but it is my fault. Two men will be coming next week to help me clean up. I have removed four or five cars and two refrigerated vans. It was full of 50 years of things. I don't have a lot of money. I am not in the junk business, well I don't intend to be in the junk business," Allen said.
   In response to Allen's continued efforts, the committee granted him a 45-day extension to come into compliance.