A man who lives in Campbell County says he’s tired of the eyesore across the road from his home. He looks at an old schoolyard that is filled with more than a hundred junk cars.
The owner of the property says the old schoolyard is used as part of his towing business and said nothing is wrong with the place. According to the Appraisal Institute, the condition of a neighbor’s home or property could potentially reduce your home’s value up to 10 percent.
When Royce Stephens walks out his front door he doesn’t like what he sees across Highway 116 in Caryville. Kids stopped playing on the old swings here 10 years ago. Stephens says before it closed, the view of Ridgewood Elementary School didn’t look like this.
“On the front that I can see out my front window, there are about 60 cars,” said Stephens. “It decreased my property value tremendously because it is in my front yard.”
Stephens bought his home 12 years ago. He was hoping to downsize and move.
“It depresses me. It causes me not to want to do anything to improve my property, to get it ready to sell because nobody is going to buy it in front of a junkyard,” said Stephens.
The owner of the old school property is Thomas Jobe. The I-75 Auto Parts and Scrap Yard is about a mile from Jobe’s property. A long high fence surrounds this licensed junkyard.
State rules for a junkyard say it’s a place of business for storing, keeping, buying and selling dismantled or wrecked vehicles. Ten or more vehicles constitute an automobile graveyard and a barrier, or a fence, is to be erected to conceal or screen the property from the roadway.
“The junkyard down the road has a fence, but this junkyard doesn’t have a fence,” said Stephens.
“Don’t want to talk to you if you’re trying to go off on my school here,” Jobe said when approached by WATE 6 On Your Side.
Apparently, Jobe knew what we wanted to talk about even before we asked questions.
“It’s not a junkyard. It’s a towing company,” he said.
His business is licensed by the US Department of Transportation. He continued to deny his business was a junkyard, but had no response when told that the state considers 10 or more vehicles an automobile junkyard.
He also said the vehicles in the ravine behind the school aren’t abandoned.
The State Department of Environment and Conversation sent an inspector to Jobe’s property a few days after our interview. In a letter, the Division of Water Pollution control said Jobe’s site does not have permit coverage for stormwater discharges associated with automobile salvage yards and the state wants to see him at their Knoxville office for a review.
Stephens believes state action may eventually get the property across from his home cleaned up.
TDEC wants Jobe to come by their office this Thursday to outline a strategy and schedule a plan to bring his property in compliance with water quality control rules associated with runoff from automobile salvage yards.
Jobe maintains he doesn’t have a salvage or junkyard. He only temporarily stores old vehicles on the old school property.