By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – Owners of a junkyard in northwest Yalobusha County have been ordered to comply with the county’s junkyard ordinance. The five–acre tract of property is located between Hwy. 51 and County Road 29 and has been a topic in multiple county meetings this year after supervisors requested owners James Davis and Daisy Davis to appear before the board on the matter.
The couple was charged with violating the county’s junkyard ordinance in September after failing to attend the meetings. The case was scheduled in justice court last month, but county officials agreed to continue it after learning the owners did not receive earlier letters from the county.
“We did not know about these meetings, the last letter I got was January,” Daisy Davis explained. “We weren’t avoiding y’all, we thought we had done everything we had supposed to before we bought the property,” she added during the supervisor meeting at the Coffeeville courthouse on Nov. 5.
Davis explained she requested to be on Monday’s agenda to make sure she had a clear understanding of the requirements in the ordinance to ensure the property is brought into compliance.
Davis also explained that they are not operating a junkyard on the property, but instead are storing vehicles.
“Do they run?” Board President Cayce Washington asked.
“Some of them do, some of them don’t,” Davis explained, adding they operate a wrecker service in Batesville and cars stored on the property, adding that they aren’t selling parts from cars on the property.
“But it is storage of cars that won’t run or are wrecked. For the sake of argument, I would define that as junk,” Washington countered.
Davis then asked about the specifications for a fence to shield the property and comply with the county ordinance.
“I don’t think the fence is defined is the junkyard ordinance,” Washington said.
“State statute defines it, though,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray added.
“But where the junkyard ordinance came to be is we had people that started collecting cars, a lot of them would not crank. They were encroaching on other people’s property, it was becoming unsightly, and dangerous if they had kids,” Washington continued.
Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn also noted the county ordinance requires at least an eight-foot fence to enclose the property to prevent unauthorized access, citing a small child getting trapped in a trunk as an example.
“The ordinance is geared toward the public safety and welfare statute that says it needs to be where people can’t harm themselves,” McMinn noted.
“The fence is also supposed to hide it from public view,” Gray added. “It is not supposed to be seen from the public road.”
“Something I would say that is aesthetically pleasing to the community. I have seen wood fences that are very nice,” Washington added.
“We can’t do a wood fence,” Davis explained, citing the cost factor. She added that building a cyclone fence with slats to obstruct view would be doable.
“People were complaining, that is why it came before us,” Gray said.
Washington added that typically the supervisors get involved if someone has filed a formal complaint.
“There was some complaints filed again you. We are not out looking for junk yards, we know they exist,” Washington said. “If you were out there on the back of the back 40 and nobody saw it, you probably wouldn’t be here today.”
“It is really not fair,” Davis countered, citing another junkyard on Hwy. 315, just outside of Water Valley. “It is going to cost us $40,000 to build a fence, everybody else should have to.”
“Those are being looked at, I can assure you. Those that are in eyesight of a county road,” Washington said.
“I understand… the front needed a fence because it is ugly,” Davis agreed.
After an agreement on the fence, the conversation then shifted to a timeline for the work.
“We have been sending letters since the first of the year. I understand you haven’t been getting them, based on your testimony. I think that we can give you 30 days to see some progress and then two or three months to get it done,” Washington recommended.
Board members voiced favor for Washington’s recommendation, and requested Davis to return to a board meeting on January 7.