Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 18, 2014

County hires lawyer for Fleetwood Drive dump investigation

Delegate says commissioners ‘shirking’ their responsibilities

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County is retaining an independent attorney to investigate a dump that’s irking residents who live near the 13000 block of Fleetwood Drive. The dump site is owned by a county employee who leases the property to a construction firm.

County Attorney Bill Rudd sent a letter to Del. Kevin Kelly on June 17 outlining the county plans. The county has retained Jayci Shaw Duncan of the Law Firm of Skidmore, Alderson & Duncan to investigate the dump for possible violations of county law. Rudd said that Duncan has been provided with all the paperwork and documentation about the property.

“It is quite possible that Ms. Duncan may wish to speak to you and the complaining neighbors as part of her investigation. She certainly will conduct a site visit and will have full access to all county records pertaining to this matter. At the end of her investigation, she will generate a report to the County Commissioners,” Rudd wrote.

Kelly said commissioners are “shirking” their responsibilities and costing the taxpayers money at the same time.

“The attorney representing her client, the county commission, will bill the taxpayers for speaking to me and to the residents and taxpayers who live there, when the county commissioners should be talking to them directly,” Kelly said. Kelly suggested county commissioners pick up the phone and talk to residents, or better yet, go out to Fleetwood Drive and meet with the residents. “I’m basically dumbfounded. ... What don’t I understand about this?” Kelly asked. “I’m extremely disappointed in the county commissioners and this waste of taxpayer money.”

Kelly has led the charge for neighbors seeking a resolution to the dumping issue. Neighbors have been fighting the problem for a long time. Correspondence by neighbors with county officials about the issue goes back to 2004. The residents contend the current use of the property violates zoning codes. The dump includes construction materials but also other refuse, neighbors say. Neighbors said the dump is inhibiting their own use of the property and likely affecting their property values.

The property was owned by Stallings Contracting and leased to Hochard Contracting, Kelly said.

Allegany County law has exceptions from building and property codes for construction refuse.

Residents have been told by county employees that the dump is legal, but residents say the dump contains more than mere construction materials.

Kelly and residents have said the company holding the property is owned by Steve Stallings, who is listed as an Allegany County building code inspector. Stallings has not responded to a request for comment.

Residents were not copied on Rudd’s letter to Kelly. Kelly said residents have heard nothing from county officials since his initial letter to commissioners about the problem May 30. If the investigation finds there is no violation, then commissioners need to change the county junk ordinance, Kelly said.

 Neighbor Jim Anderson said last week he just wants the property cleaned up. “It really is an eyesore, it still is,” said Anderson. A recent cleanup was more of a reorganizing or re-piling, Anderson said. A Dumpster was recently removed, he said.

Rudd said when Duncan completes the report to the county, it will be forwarded to Kelly and the neighbors.

“I am offended by this; the commissioners should be dealing directly with the taxpayers,” Kelly said.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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