News and Tribune

December 12, 2012

City files complaint over New Albany junkyard

Coffey: Residents are intimidated over activity in neighborhood

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — New Albany City Attorney Stan Robison has filed a civil complaint against a resident he’s accused of operating a “junkyard” in the city’s west end.

Robison told the New Albany Board of Public Works and Safety this week that Jesse Elder Jr. of 905 Cedar St. has been illegally managing a makeshift car lot full of abandoned and scrapped vehicles for several years.

The property isn’t zoned for commercial or industrial use, and there’s “deeper problems” in the neighborhood that can be better remedied when Elder’s junkyard is shutdown, Robison continued.

District 1 City Councilman Dan Coffey went as far as to say the area has turned into the “Wild West,”  as he alleged the “mainly” nice neighborhood is being threatened by criminal elements.

“They’re intimidating the people around there,” he said.

Coffey appeared before the board of works requesting the body take further action against Elder and other property owners in the area who he said aren’t following the city’s codes.

Last week, Robison filed a complaint against Elder in Floyd Superior Court No. 1. Robison said more cases may be flied against other property owners in the neighborhood as well.

Elder wasn’t present during the board of works meeting, and the complaint filed against him didn’t include a phone number or an attorney contact. A phone number obtained for Elder listing his address as 907 Cedar St. was disconnected.

Court documents as of Wednesday showed Elder still hadn’t been served with a summons regarding the complaint.

Coffey said Elder blatantly ignores the city’s laws regarding his property, going as far as to advertise his business on Facebook and on advertisements posted around New Albany.

Kevin Stephens told the board of works he’s lived near the area in question most of his life, and that the recent activity in the neighborhood has caused fear among some of the older residents including his mother.

He said once grassy areas have been replaced by a junkyard or dirt, and that heavy equipment such as a fork lift and tree trimming truck haven’t moved from the Elder property in more than a year.

Stephens also alleged there’s been an increase in illegal drug activity in the neighborhood in recent months.

“It’s just getting out of hand,” Stephens said.

Robison — who became city attorney in January — said he only recently was made aware of the situation on Cedar Street, as he added the property has apparently been out of code for several years.

“There are no business permits” for the Elder property, Robison said. “There’s no permit to do anything but live there.”