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Neighbors say man allowing dumping in driveway for cash

City promising action after dozens of complaints
Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 18:18:54-04

CLEVELAND — People living along Union Avenue in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood say they're fed-up with the growing mountain of mess in one man's driveway.

"It's just getting higher and closer to the sidewalk," said Luadrie Turner who's watched the pile of trash grown across from his home. "It's about to the second floor almost."

The pile stands about eight feet high and extends around to the back of the two story house. Trash has pushed against a fence, causing it to bow. In places, the pile has spilled into a neighbor's yard.

"He's allowing the dumping to occur," said Turner. "This young man who lives here."

5 On Your Side Investigators tried asking the man about the trash. He refused to say how the garbage ended up in his driveway or whether, as neighbors said, he allowed people to dump there for money.

"I ain't got to answer none of that," the man said.

CIty Councilman Kenneth Johnson's office received at least 20 complaints in the last two months about the dumping at the house. City hall received two more.

"We have seen them coming now, we've seen the rodents we didn't see before," said Turner.

Public works showed up to remove the trash but had to stop once workers learned someone lived in the house.

"Because it's an occupied property, he has rights to his property," said Cleveland's Director of Public Works Michael Cox. "We cannot just go onto someone's private property unless we're given a court order to go."

City records show the home was cited by inspectors, who gave the homeowner until August 17 to clean up the mess and make repairs.

The man living in the home said he hired a man and woman to clean up. The couple showed up in a sedan, but said they were going to bring a dumpster. The next day, it appeared little progress had been made on the clean up.

It wasn't a surprise to Sgt. Andy Ezzo of the Environmental Crimes Task Force.

"The Health Department and Building and Housing have been out here," said Ezzo. "They've issued them a notice of violations, but apparently he doesn't care and it just continues to get worse and worse."

Ezzo said if things aren't cleaned up in two weeks, he'll open an investigation into felony open dumping.

"If you're a bad guy and you shoot me and I live, there's one victim," said Ezzo. "But in a case like this, they're not the only victim. There's a whole community."

A community that's fed up.

"That just makes everybody look bad," said Turner.

The man living in the home said that his brother owned the house. But 5 On Your Side Investigators learned the home had more than $27,000 in delinquent taxes and penalties, was foreclosed on, but went unpurchased at a sheriff's sale. According to court records, the home was transferred to the state this week.

The city says if you see someone illegally dumping you should call 911 and report it to police. If you can safely get pictures or video or even a license plate number, that can speed up the investigation.

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