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City says clean up of dumping was a mix-up

Part of pile remains after mistake
Posted at 5:22 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 18:26:58-04

CLEVELAND — After months of complaining, people living along Union Avenue in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood were excited. City crews armed with heavy equipment and a dump truck arrived to clean-up what investigators call illegal dumping in the driveway of a home.

But by mid-afternoon Wednesday, the crews were gone and much of the trash remained.

So what happened? A Cleveland city spokesman said it was a mix-up by crews sent to clean-up vacant lots. He said the crews saw the mountain of trash and went to work. But when a supervisor checked on the crew, he realized the address wasn't on the list of lots to clean up. The work crew was moved to another location.

"Because it's an occupied property, he has rights to his property," said Cleveland's Director of Public Works earlier this month. That includes the right to fix violations cited by a city inspector in July. That inspector gave the homeowner until August 17 to get rid of the trash and make other repairs. Without a court order or permission from the homeowner, the city said they couldn't clean the mess themselves.

Councilman Kenneth Johnson's office has received 27 complaints about the dumping in the last two weeks. That's on top of at least 20 complaints in the two months before 5 On Your Side Investigators first exposed the problem earlier this month.

The city says law enforcement plans to open a felony investigation into open dumping if the mess isn't cleaned-up by the August 17 deadline.

A spokesman says because of the mistake, the homeowner likely won't be billed for today's partial clean-up.