June 29, 2005
Residents are up in arms tonight over illegal junk in the backyard of a Cismont home. Neighbors say it's been four months since the county told them to clean up their junk, but they haven't done much since.
Growing concerns of a 16-acre junkyard in the back of a Cismont home has left Albemarle County Officials and residents asking questions and wanting answers. This was the topic tonight at the Albemarle County Public Information Meeting, with county officials and the health department.
The front yard of a Cismont home looked much like it looked back on February 5, 2005.
"Approximately 30 percent or so is what we are estimating has been cleaned up so far," said Lee Catlin, of Albemarle County.
County officials gave the homeowners Cecil and Doris Gardener a notice of violation after the county discovered the junkyard while responding to a fire January 4, 2005.
"We would like to see a complete cleanup," said Patricia Napoleon, a neighbor.
However, what concerns neighbors aren’t the appliances, scrap metal, tires, or Christmas displays, but what's been buried under the Gardener's backyard for the past 30 years.
"We're concerned that it is embedded in the ground; and I think ground water soil contamination [is what I fear]," said Napoleon.
"My understanding is that there is a [stream] that runs through the back of this property that has been possibly contaminated with the tire sludge from the tire fires over the years," said Bonny Stevens, a neighbor.
However, County officials said the initial tests of the three water wells in the Gardener's area came up clean.
"We have not seen anything thus far to lead us to believe that there is any health impacts from this, but the department of health is a very active partner. They are engaged in the investigation," said Catlin.
Still, Cismont residents feel the county hasn't done enough to enforce the law. "We cannot accept a band aid approach," explained Napoleon.
"If we continue to see good progress in the voluntary cleanup then we are going to work with the Gardeners to make sure that it continues," said Catlin.