Junkyard wars to yield results

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, November 27, 2008

By Staff
City officials, junkyard owners involved in clean-up tussle
Staff Writer
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines junkyard as “a place where old metal, paper, etc. is kept, sorted and sold or old cars are junked.”
A definition as ambiguous as a junkyard itself.
Even the word junk has contradictory meanings, according to Webster’s.
Among the four definitions listed in Webster’s for the word junk are “old metal, glass, paper, rags, etc., parts of which may be salvageable for reuse” and “useless or worthless stuff; trash; rubbish.”
So is Buddy Paramore’s “junkyard” on Sand Hole Road off of U.S. Highway 17 filled with salvageable parts or rubbish?
While “junkyard” owner Paramore thinks the former, the City of Washington and the Miracle Mile Committee see the latter.
And by its ambiguous definition, junkyards are not permitted in the city’s Highway Commercial Districts, said Bobby Roberson, director of Planning and Development.
While the “junkyard” isn’t within Washington city limits, it is subject to the city’s zoning laws as part of its extra-territorial jurisdiction.
In violation of zoning laws, Paramore was sent a zoning compliance letter from the city at the beginning of November. A letter was also sent to Bobby Whichard, owner of the property used by the junkyard.
Paramore, who has been renting the property from Whichard for two or three years, said he received no forewarning that he was being served.
Paramore, with little previous knowledge that he was in violation of the city’s zoning laws, was given 30 days to clear the lot and be in compliance.
The Miracle Mile Committee has been petitioning to remove the “junkyard” for over a year and a half, said committee head Roger Tuttle. Removing the “junkyard” was just part of the committee’s clean-up effort on U.S. Highway 17 from Washington to Chocowinity, said Tuttle.
Tuttle said he brought the issue to Washington City Manager Jim Smith numerous times, as well as the Beaufort County Committee of 100 and the Washington Noon Rotary Club.
Smith explained to Tuttle that the property was under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, as it is less than 600 feet from the highway.
According to Planning and Development Director Roberson, the Highway Beautification Act controls 600 feet on either side of the right of way.
City officials contacted the NCDOT about removing the “junkyard,” but NCDOT officials said it was a zoning issue.
With the NCDOT’s blessing, the city served Paramore and Whichard.
Paramore said he came back to the city with complaints about the 30-day clean-up period.
Paramore, 71 years old, said he’s had back problems for years and can’t be expected to move so much “junk” in a month.
At Paramore’s request, Washington Mayor Judy Meier Jennette, Smith and Roberson met with Paramore and Whichard to discuss the “junkyard” clean up.
The parties came to an agreement that Paramore and Whichard must have the lot cleared in 90 days, starting about a week ago, said Roberson.
If the lot is not cleared in 90 days, the city will cite property owner Whichard every day thereafter until the work is done, said Roberson.
All parties agreed that the issue had been going on far too long.
He noted verbal attacks against his son, Beaufort County Clerk of Court Marty Paramore.
He also said he was kept in the dark by the city for far too long.
Either way, the clean-up effort is afoot.
Paramore said he started cleaning up before he was served, and he has already filled a dumpster full of scrap metal.
But he cautions that the imminent threat of cold weather could affect the clean-up effort.