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Washington Township files civil complaint against man

March 26, 2001

Washington Township files civil complaint against man



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Washington Township Supervisors have filed a civil complaint against a Blue Ridge Summit man alleging he violated the township's zoning laws by running a junkyard on his property.

Named as the defendants in the complaint were George William Nicholas and his wife, Mary Adetra Nicholas, of 1440 Tower Road. Nicholas declined comment Monday.

The complaint was filed in District Justice Larry Pentz's office by John Lisko, the township's attorney.

According to the complaint, Nicholas' property is zoned low-density residential. In June 1979, Nicholas was granted a zoning variance to run a construction business out of his garage. He exceeded the scope of the variance by extending the business outside the garage, court records allege.

On Nicholas's property one can see junked automobiles, dump trucks, earth-moving equipment, truck trailers, a cement mixing truck, a boom and other parts to a Grove crane, and other equipment.

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The township's zoning ordinance bans junkyards in low-density residential areas, the complaint said. Specifically, the ordinance bans the storage of rubbish, junk or abandoned motor vehicles or parts, court records said.

The township sent Nicholas a cease and desist order on Dec. 5, 2000, court records said.

The township is seeking fines of up to $500 a day, court records said.

Jerry Zeigler, zoning enforcement officer for Washington Township, said Monday that the township is also asking the court for the right to remove the junk and debris from Nicholas' property and charge him for the costs.

"I told the (township) supervisors last week that it will cost the taxpayers about $100,000 to have all that stuff hauled away," Zeigler said. "Taxpayers are going to have to pay and they may not get the money back. That's the cost of enforcing the law."

Zeigler estimated there are more than 100,000 tons of junk on Nicholas' property.

Zeigler said the township would try to recover some of its losses by selling the metal to a recycler.

He said he didn't know if Nicholas can afford the fines or the cost of having the junk removed. The township is putting a lien on the property to recover its cost, he said.

"It's in his own interest to clean it up. There will be no joy in it for us if we make the man lose his property and his home," Zeigler said.

"Nicholas has been very polite with us," Zeigler said.

"He made some progress in 1997 and 1998, but then he started dragging stuff back on the property in the last two years," Zeigler said. "We've been at this for more than five years and we've gone as long as we can."

Zeigler said the number of complaints from neighbors and residents who drive by Nicholas' property is growing.

"Times are changing," Zeigler said. "There are more people moving into the township from the city and they don't want to see things like this. This kind of situation is no longer tolerated."

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