Whatever it’s called, be it storage, salvage, or junk, commissioners have told Gavin Shields of Lincolnville that a collection of old cars, tires, scrap metal, and other items on a lot bordering Lincolnville must go.
Shields appeared at Monday’s meeting to say he’s only using the lot for storage, an argument rejected in August when the board of zoning appeals recommended against a conditional use permit for a salvage yard along First St.
“This is not a salvage yard, it was never a salvage yard, and I never applied for a salvage yard,” he said. “I was forced by the county to apply for this description. It’s basically a storage yard. The use of this land and the activity in the past month has been zero. There is no salvage operation and there never will be.”
Shields said there’s been little happening at the lot since a flurry of activity when he closed his automotive repair shop and moved the remaining cars and assets there.
“As I downsize and sell off as scrap prices go up, it will be emptied out,” he said. “The description and the meeting in its entirety at the zoning meeting was inaccurate.”
Commissioner Dan Holub wasn’t convinced.
“If you take stuff in and sell it, you’re salvaging, whether it be cars, trailers, boards, nails, that’s a salvage operation,” he said. “If you’re accumulating stuff to sell, it’s a salvage business.”
“I won’t be buying anything, I’m simply selling off to places that will take this,” he said.
“It looks like an accumulation to me,” Holub replied.
Commissioner Randy Dallke expressed concerns about the lot’s owners, James and Linda Green.
“I’d like to talk to the landowners personally and tell them we don’t need to start places up without getting proper permits,” he said. “I think the Greens have been cited with letters before for this kind of operation.”
Dallke raised the question of how long it would take to clean up the lot if they denied the permit.
“If it’s going to move again in Marion County, where’s it going to go?” he said.
“If that stuff is moved in Marion County I would insist on knowing where it’s going to, because you’re going to need another CUP permit.”
Shields said that he’s been using the lot for storage for two years without complaints, until recently.
“I took the initiative to clean up the property, causing people to raise comments,” he said. “Until I did that, no one ever raised it as an issue. But there has been a storage operation there for two years.”
Holub made a motion that the lot be restored to its “original condition” within 90 days.
“It’s taken an incredible amount of money to clean up and do this, and 90 days would just not be enough,” he said.
Commissioner Lori Lalouette asked Shields to describe the condition of the property before he started storing items there, as a way to determine how much cleanup would be necessary.
“When we say restore back, what are we talking about here?” she said. “At what point do we try to work with him?”
Commissioners voted to deny Shields’ application, and Holub amended his motion to give Shields until Jan. 31 to restore the property to where no violation exists.
While disappointed with the outcome, Shields said he felt he received a fair hearing.
“They were actually willing to work with me and make sure everyone else in the community was happy; I was impressed,” he said. “I don’t believe the zoning board was open to suggestions whatsoever. The county commissioners did a pretty good job of identifying problems and trying to correct them with the right solutions.”