Stuff Recycling ruling affirmed, expanded

The Board of Adjustments ordered Stuff Recycling to keep all materials and equipment involved in its recycling business behind the current building lines in an expanded finding Thursday night, to the applause of residents.

The members voted in October and affirmed a 2012 decision to restrict the business’ operations to behind the existing buildings and out of public view from Lexington Road. the meeting, though, was challenged under the state open meeting law as the board members deliberated privately, which violated the law.

BOA attorney William Dykeman admitted the error in his counsel to the board, but said there was no error with the board’s finding during the Oct. 4 meeting.

Planning Director Robert Jeffries also presented a 2016 notice of violation sent to Stuff by interim planning director Joshua Cook, which was recently found in Jeffries’ office. The violation alleges Stuff was storing equipment, recycling bins and trucks at or near the property line. The 2012 agreement only allowed materials to be stored there.

Jeffries said there was no record of a response filed by Stuff or any action taken by local authorities.

“It’s up to your interpretation of the 2012 (decision) and this letter in 2016,” Dykeman said Thursday.

On a motion by board member Leo Shortridge, the board voted unanimously that all business operations occur behind the front of the buildings. The motion also prohibited anything related to the business’ recycling, including parking trucks, storing materials or equipment, also be prohibited.

“Anything that is part of that recycling operation can’t exist in front of the building,” Shortridge said. “I think it should be employee parking only.”

Jeffries said he would send a letter to Stuff as soon as the meeting minutes are approved. Jeffries said the board’s only authority was to interpret the 2012 ruling. Any further action about the matter would have to go through the court system.

Residents who live near Stuff have been challenging the business, its existence and that it was grandfathered into a B-4 business zone since August, two months after a fire burned at Stuff for three days.

A group of neighbors, led by Tresa Bridges, asked the board to do something to enforce the zoning. The business and property were grandfathered into the B-4 zone in 2012, though scrapyards are not typically in the B-4 zone, citing an existing use by a previous owner.

The neighbors have grown tired of the noise and the potential health hazards from the business.

“Those piles have done nothing but get bigger and then they had a fire,” Bridges said. “Make these piles go away. Make our water safe. Make sure we don’t have another fire out there.

“It’s loud. There’s numerous, numerous trucks. They just need to clean it up and do what they are supposed to do.”

Mike Eaves, an attorney representing Stuff, said earlier in the meeting the 2016 letter should be disregarded.

“I think this means nothing,” he said, as Cook was not there to explain the letter or violations. He said Stuff owner Jerry Joiner filed a response to the violation, but did not have a copy. Jeffries said he could not find any mention of a response to the violation either.