Resident says junked cars are cluttering neighborhood

By Julie Fann
star staff

A resident of Carter County's west end says she's concerned action taken to remove junked cars from the geographical area near her home will be delayed now that the property has been annexed into the city of Elizabethton. The resident filed a complaint with the city and county just two weeks ago.
   The resident, who lives on Vanderbilt Road behind the West Carter Fire Department, and who wants to remain anonymous, said she informed the Elizabethton Police Department. She said Captain Tom Bowers, the city's code enforcement officer, "identified five different areas, issuing citations for city code violations."
   The resident mentioned two locations -- junked cars around Aunt B's restaurant on the Milligan Highway, and jettisoned automobiles at a home near her on Vanderbilt Road. None of the cars were located beside the resident's home, which was not included in the recent annexation.
   The resident said she also spoke with Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler about the problem.
   "We're not talking about just a few cars here. We're talking about a lot of cars," the resident said. "It seems that some people, no matter how many rules and regulations are implemented, manage to avoid having to obey the law for years and years."
   Bowers and Schuettler could not be reached for comment, but Larry Miller, chief building official for the city, said that, according to city ordinance, properties cannot have cars parked that are partially dismantled, rusted, or not in operating condition.
   "There is no limit on how many cars you can have, but what you do have must be in working condition," Miller said.
   Miller also said Bowers had not been able to take action on the case because of a large workload that requires a lot of time. "There's so much stuff out there. He works on two or three jobs and works on them for awhile," Miller said.
   Annexation of property in the west end of Carter County became final on December 28, 2001, and a recently conducted census added 645 new residents to the city of Elizabethton.
   Properties annexed into the city included those fronting the intersection of Glanzstoff Highway and state Route 67 extending to the Washington County line, and properties fronting Glanzstoff Highway extending to Dave Buck Road.
   Elizabethton Planning and Development Director David Ornduff said that, after the annexation was completed, all properties were temporarily designated R1, or low-density residential properties, until staff complete a land-use survey.
   Ornduff said his staff are currently in the process of conducting the survey and that he does not know when it will be finished. However, he said that doesn't stop staff from inspecting a problem and acting on it if necessary.
   "Nuisances under the ordinance and according to state law are never grandfathered. If this is determined to be a nuisance, of course the issue will be addressed, and we will do everything legally within our power to correct any problem or situation that we know of," Ornduff said.
   However, Ornduff said his staff cannot liquidate property rights and privileges in the name of state law just because that property has been annexed. "Unless it's detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens," he said. "Other than that, why, once we get a complaint, we respond. We're not going to ignore it."