Supervisors eye property clean-up

Published 2:14 am Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Joe Montgomery, attorney for the board of supervisors, on Monday told a residential landowner who has property in Carriere Community that has been declared a public nuisance that he would recommend to supervisors to have her property cleaned up, a lien placed on the property and the property eventually sold to recoup the county’s costs for cleanup.

“I don’t even live there,” Peggy Brooks said.

“Yes, but you own it,” replied Montgomery.

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Montgomery’s comment came in Monday’s board of supervisors meeting.

Supervisors then headed into executive session to decide whether or not to take legal action against the owner, and Montgomery said that would be his recommendation, if necessary, to the board on a problem that has stretched back over “four or five years,” say county officials.

All the while, as Montgomery said what he was recommending, the landowner and person who lives in a trailer on the property, protested against what was transpiring.

“Why, it looks better now than it ever has looked!” said Peggy Brooks, who owns the property according to Montgomery.

Montgomery told her and her son-in-law, Donald Caves, who lives in a trailer with some children on the property at 104 Lee Street, that the possibility also exists that criminal charges could be filed against them in Justice Court for violation of county laws in the matter.

Said Caves, “I have lined all the vehicles up real straight. I have got ten guys coming to help me clean up the property. I am going to clean it up myself. That’s why my back is killing me now. I have been cleaning it up.”

The board of supervisors has already declared the property a public nuisance, after neighbors have complained about it for years. County officials say it is the worst garbage and junk problem they know of in the county.

Montgomery told Caves that he had his children living in the trailer “under conditions seemingly just as bad as what I have seen on television in Haiti.”

Even who to charge financially for the cleanup or who to file criminal charges against has been a headache for county officials because the property is heir property and Caves, Brooks’ son-in-law, lives in the trailer on the property.

“The property belongs to you, Mrs. Brooks,” Montgomery told her. “Your husband’s will has never been probated.”

Mrs. Brooks said that her husband left it to his daughter and that now it is willed to her two grandchildren, who are minors. Montgomery told the two that if the board decided to approve charges in the case, they both would be the target.

Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith, in whose district the problem exists, told Caves and Brooks, “It’s time something is done about this. We are through asking. I don’t like to see something like this done, but we have to do something. This has been going on for years.”

Said Supervisor Hudson Holliday, “Mr. Caves, I will look you straight in the eye and tell you if there is anyway to make you pay for this, I am for it. I don’t like the taxpayers of Pearl River Co. having to pay for cleaning up your yard. I am soft-hearted and want to help anyone, but we have talked and talked and nothing has been done.”

Said Supervisor Anthony Hales, “Like Hudson, I am soft-hearted, too. I want to give anyone a second chance and exhibit good will, but it is time that this problem was solved, and I am for whatever legal action needs to be taken to clean up this mess.”

Montgomery told Brooks and Caves that he had checked the property on Monday morning before coming to the board meeting and that nothing had been done. In addition, Montgomery said, a horse is now tethered to the junk surrounding the house, and horse manure covers the place, attracting flies. “That could affect the health of those children,” Montgomery told Brooks and Caves.

Caves said that he is picking up the manure daily. He said four dumpster loads of trash had already been removed from the property. The county placed a dumpster near the trailer to help dispose of the trash.

County planner Ed Pinero, Jr., told the board earlier that Caves had been depositing household garbage in the back of junked trucks parked on the property.

Another landowner, Virgil Matthews, whose land abuts that of Brooks, told supervisors that some of the refuse from the Brooks property has spilled over to his property.

This has been going on for years, Matthews told supervisors. Caves told the board that he had been mowing Matthews next-door property.

At one point Caves told supervisors he was going to clean up the junk automobiles on the property. “Where are you going to put them?” asked Hales. “Over at the Cubby Hole,” replied Caves.

“In other words, you are just going to transfer one pile of junk from one place to another place,” said Hales.

The county has also had trouble with cleanup problems around the Cubby Hole, an abandoned quick stop in the northeast corner of Burgetown Road and U.S. Hwy. 11.