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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Officials: Wayland trailer park possibly public health hazard

Henry County officials scratching their heads over what to do with piles of trash
Jun 14, 2018
Courtesy of: Joe Buffington A trailer park in Wayland is quickly becoming a public health hazard as people continue to leave bags of trash, furniture, tires and other odds and ends on the six acres of property. The owners of the property do not live in the area. While a few residents remain in the trailer park, there are 10 abandoned trailers that are beyond repair.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


WAYLAND — A trailer park in Wayland is quickly becoming a public health hazard.

Henry County Building and Zoning Administrator Joe Buffington said people are actively dumping their garbage in the abandoned trailer lots within 1,000 feet of Wayland city limits in Henry County.

Buffington reached out to the property owners in January, permitting them to continue their operations if they cleaned up the property within six months. With July quickly approaching, their six months are up, and Buffington said no cleanup has taken place.

“I think it will fall to the county to clean up this mess,” Buffington told the Board of Health during a meeting on Tuesday, June 12.

As more and more furniture, tires, lawn mowers and bags of garbage pile up, word has gotten around that the six acres is a good place to dump trash, Buffington said, guessing it’s people who don’t want to take the time to drive to Trenton to properly dispose of their items who are littering.

Law enforcement officials told Buffington that since there is no fence, gate or no trespassing sign, there is little they can do to prosecute littering violators. “I don’t see the logic in that,” Buffington said.

Buffington suspects the property owners were hoping to pawn the mess off onto a new buyer. But with vacant trailer houses unlivable and beyond repair, buyers are scarce. With the trash well out of hand, Buffington is trying to determine the best and quickest form of action — either it can be classified as a zoning violation or a public nuisance.

“They’ve had more than enough time to get things underway,” Buffington said. “If they had any intention of cleaning it up, they would be out there.”

While there are 10 abandoned trailers on the lot, some residents remain. One trailer reportedly has no sewer or water connected to the dwelling. There is electricity.

Buffington said he can file a nuisance violation any day, but has to wait the remainder of the six months to file a zoning violation in July. The last contact he had with the property owner was Tuesday, June 12 when he said someone answered the phone and immediately replaced the receiver when Buffington said who was calling.

Buffington first began taking photos of the property a year ago, documenting the trash collecting on the property when a new buyer purchased the lots and kicked people out of their units. “This stuff never cleans up quickly,” Buffington said.

The closest property owner resides in Kalona. Other owners of the property live in California. “Out of site, out of mind,” Buffington said.

While Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin worried that it would be hard to prove the property as a public health nuisance, Buffington disagreed in this case. “I don’t think you’ll have a hard time convincing a judge this is an issue. It’s pretty blatant,” he said.

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