SYCAMORE, Ala. – Litter has become a major issue in Talladega County according to District 5 commissioner Greg Atkinson. However, on one piece of property in Sycamore it seems to be a larger problem.
Complaints are becoming more prevalent each day about the southeast intersection of Main Street at Hwy. 21. The site features what the tenant, who identified himself as Jimmy Gosdin, calls “donations” from the public which he sells as yard sale items. Items include televisions, chairs, couches, old toys and stuffed animals.
Atkinson said the site has been an issue for a few months. The issue, according to Atkinson: the materials have become a safety hazard.
“We want the county to be clean, safe, enjoyable and free of hazard, and what we have out there is not hazard free,” Atkinson stated. He said trash flies into the road, in front of cars and across other people yards. He also said he has received many complaints from people in the area.
SylacaugaNews.com visited the site and found trash around the area. Gosdin denied the trash came from the property he rents. He said the trash surrounding his property flies out of garbage trucks as they make the sharp turn past the property, and said the litter comes from the Dollar General Store located next door. SylacaugaNews.com pointed to what would traditionally be called litter on the property, and Gosdin replied “That’s not litter. That’s just my merchandise.”
Atkinson said he does not consider many of the items on the property to be marketable or merchandise. Gosdin said he is so sure he is not littering he even placed a “don’t be a litter bug” sign in his yard.
The county has taken many steps in this case. Atkinson said he has been to the property numerous times to ask the tenant to clean up, but no one has been present when he visited. Atkinson said spoke with Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore, the county attorney, and the county administrator about the issue. He believes the site could be labeled as an illegal dumping ground and has contacted the Alabama Department of Transportation about protecting the state right-of-way.
The right-of-way seemed to be clear of all materials when SylacaugaNews.com visited the site. In fact, Gosdin had a measuring tape laid out across the property at 25 feet, a distance he was asked to keep all materials from the edge of the road. He said that is what he is doing. “I’m a righteous man,” he stated. “I did everything I was asked to do.”
Atkinson pointed at ordinances that cities such as Sylacauga have in place to prevent the accumulation of debris or “junk” in a yard, as Atkinson said. He said the county does not have such ordinances and his “hands are tied” in this matter. Atkinson said the county does not have the power to impose fines. However, Alabama Criminal Littering Code 13A-7-29 states:
“Upon approval of the county commission, the county license inspector shall have the same authority to issue citations against persons violating this section as county license inspectors have with regard to persons violating revenue laws. In addition, the county solid waste officer shall have the same authority to issue citations against persons violating this section as solid waste officers have with regard to persons violating the Solid Wastes Disposal Act.”
As days pass, Atkinson said he is trying to be as creative as possible in order to get the site cleaned up. He also said this is not only about this one location. “We are always wanting to clean up Talladega County regardless of where the trash is,” he said. “I feel like if we can be creative in finding a way to clean this location up, then we can have a way to clean up the rest of the county.”
TCSO Captain Josh Tubbs said multiple attempts have been made to contact the property owner. SylacaugaNews.com also attempted to contact the property owner but did not hear back.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.