County continues war on junk

From Staff Reports

   In an ongoing effort to clean up unzoned junkyards throughout Carter County, county planners voted Tuesday to recommend the county commission file charges against the owners of several illegal lots. Planners have also given 60 days' notice to a number of other county residents who are in violation of zoning regulations.
   Planners will ask the county commission to "initiate legal action" immediately against the owners of three junkyards at the next commission meeting. County Planner Chris Schuettler said that the three junkyards were located on Jim Elliott Road (Tolley Town) and in Pinecrest.
   "When I say junkyards," said Schuettler, "I mean anywhere from nine to 30 inoperable automobiles parked on their property."
   Schuettler said that the cases will likely be heard in General Sessions Court.
   Though the court only has authority to fine owners of illegal junkyards, Schuettler said that penalties can be piled up daily "until the situation is rectified." Owners can be fined as much as $50 per day until their property meets inspection, he said.
   Once the summons to court is given, owners will have to pay courts costs even if the property is cleared before they appear before the judge.
   "Just court costs is a good chunk of change," Schuettler said.
   Planners also discussed putting liens against property to force owners to pay for cleanup if they refuse to comply. However, considering county budget constraints, it doesn't seem likely the commission will able to take such action in the near future.
   "It has never been a question of 'if' we can put liens against property," said Local/State Planner Albert Teilhet. "It is simply a question of money. You have to have money up front to clear someone's property. When you put a lien against someone's property, you may not see that money again for another 20 years."
   Planning Commission Chairman Bob Hughes appeared positive, however, concerning property owners recently given notice by the commission.
   "Most of the people we talked to seemed receptive," said Hughes. "I don't believe they want to wind up in court."
   In other matters, Planners gave final approval for phase one of a new subdivision on Lena Harvey Road.