02/11/04 — Work begins to clean Slocumb Street

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Work begins to clean Slocumb Street

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 11, 2004 2:04 PM

The slovenly appearance of Slocumb Street has improved over the past two days, since prison inmates began picking up trash, but there is still work to be done.

Much of the trash piled on the side of the road and against a fence is gone. The windows, tires and motors have been removed from the edge of the street, but a long line of litter is still visible through the bare trees stretching into a wooded area.

Joe Sawyer, general services director for the city, said that the inmates have finished cleaning the right-of-way, and now the city will focus on the trash on private property.

"We're putting the property owners on notice," Sawyer said. "We'll give them 10 days to clean it all up."

After that, the city will hire a contractor and clean it up, one parcel at a time. "The property owners will be billed for that," Sawyer said.

The unlicensed cars that were spilling into the right-of-way on Slocumb Street have been moved back from the road, leaving a better view of oil spots and machine parts scattered on the ground.

The cars, jammed into a small parking lot in front of a garage, are in various stages of disrepair. Many of them have no license tags, which is not allowed for the zone the business is in.

City Manager Richard Slozak said the garage is in a neighborhood business zone and is allowed to repair working automobiles, but not to store cars that aren't working.

Slozak and City Attorney Harrell Everett will meet Thursday to discuss taking legal action to remove the unlicensed cars.

"There's no explanation from the staff as to why this wasn't handled before," Slozak said. "If you handle one, you handle them all."

The decision to enforce the zoning requirements came the same day the News-Argus published an article describing the junky looking cars at the garage on Slocumb Street.

Slozak said the city had recently closed a place down on the corner of Jefferson Street and Royall Avenue that also had a number of unlicensed vehicles stored on the premises. That situation ended up in court, he said, but the city eventually got it cleaned up.

He said he had directed his staff to see if there were any more places out of compliance with the zoning code.

"They are checking out two more places now," he said. "Places that are supposed to be neighborhood businesses, but have car carcasses."

Slozak said that Planning Department was usually responsible for citing zoning violations, but in this case he was handing it over directly to City Attorney Harrell Everett.

"We're not going after it as a nuisance," he explained, "but as a garage that's in a zone permitting garages, but not unlicensed vehicles."

The Slocumb Street garage owners will first receive a letter from Everett giving them 30 days to move the unlicensed vehicles, Slozak said.