The Auction…

I don’t like one of my neighbors very much.

I don’t think you would either.

His philosophy is that everything he wants to do is OK, the rest of the world be damned. He is profane, belligerent, a bully, a bigot and stubborn. But he is not dumb.
Rules and regulations, laws, ordinances and codes are meant for other people. When someone gets in his way they are bullied, pushed, pulled, threatened or lawyered out of his way. Bullying is his best weapon…he’s short, wide, loud, pushy and vulgar. He doesn’t talk but gets in your face and shouts. His paranoia doesn’t allow him to believe anybody would talk to him. If bullying doesn’t work he has an attorney who is his second line of defense. This guy is a character out of a Bogart movie. He’s the classic ambulance chaser. No ethics, scruples, personality, respect, empathy, sympathy, remorse or fear. But he’s not dumb.

This neighbor from hell moved to Ohio from West Virginia twenty plus years ago. Since then he has been run out of about a dozen communities for flagrant violations of all manner of debt issues, zoning violations, land uses, business practices, environmental abuses, and being just plain ornery. I suspect he left West Virginia for the same reasons. I’m pretty sure they don’t want him back.

Some of the trash buyers at the auction.

What does he do to get himself into such trouble you ask? Basically, where ever he is he runs a junk yard. Old cars, bulldozers, scrap iron, tractors and farm machinery, truck trailers and truck frames and cabs and tires, tools, motors, trucks, truck parts, car parts, machine parts, junk, junk and more junk. And lots of it. Lots and lots of it. Piles and piles of it. Truck trailer’s full of it. Temporary buildings full of it, tents full of it, a porch, garage and house full of it. But that’s not enough so he opened a business in town for more of it…with even more cars and trucks and parts and pieces there. Sometimes, he brings home a junk car and smashes it with his bulldozer…flattens it like a pancake, loads it on one of his trucks and hauls it…somewhere. What happens to the resident liquids that were in that car remains a mystery.

The municipal code in town doesn’t allow a collection of wrecks at his garage on a very busy intersection so he fronts it as a place to sell or repair those cars and trucks and trailers and parts and pieces. Understandably, the city doesn’t seem to agree with that interpretation of the law and has been after him since day one…a few years ago…to clean up his act and get rid of the junk. It’s taken that long to get him to move…recall that attorney whom I’m sure was initially a partner in the firm Dewey Cheatem and Howe but now is with Sueum, Takeit and Runne.

When the city really gets on his case, he moves his junk out here, and when the township threatens him he moves his junk into town. It’s a game he plays and everybody knows…everybody knows.

Tractors on display. These are the whole tractors...there a piles and piles of parts somewhere around here.

Out here in the country the township Trustees have disagreed with his interpretation of the local zoning ordinances as well. Here, we’re zoned residential or agricultural. Home or farm…or both, but not a junk yard. To push the limits of that ordinance he actually purchased some animals. Sheep, cows, chickens, pigs. None of them have permanent housing, rather they have tents that aren’t as weather proof as the trailers he stores his junk in. Those trailers, he says, are equipment storage, feed storage and tool storage. I pity the animals. The local SPCA hasn’t had luck yet with this problem either.

To hide his mess from the world he built a landscape berm around the periphery of his four acre plot…a mound about four feet high. Volunteer poplars grew on top of some of it. In summer you can see most of the stuff inside, and in winter everything. He’s hiding nothing.

Recently he tried a different trick. He applied for a zoning variance to allow him to park some number of trucks on his lot…a variance not uncommon for part time farmers here who have a job away from home…say construction or hauling grain. But to be able to do that the zoning folks made him get rid of most of the junk. The piles and trailers and tractors and more piles and motors and stuff….hence the auction. Most everything must go. Not the animals though…this is a farm after all.

Winter Housing in Northeast Ohio

We met a couple of years ago, but he doesn’t remember me at all. But he knows all the rest of our neighbors who have been, for years, complaining about this ongoing crime. And they all came to the auction. We looked around…measuring the piles, counting the trailers, watching the crowd, listening to the auctioneers, wondering why people were paying good money for trash. Someone should tell their neighbors what will soon appear on the horizon. After a while my neighbors grew weary of this drama and wandered home but I stayed around. In fact, I hung around this faux farmer wondering if he’d say something interesting. I wasn’t disappointed.

He was standing near one of the two active auctioneering rings talking to a fat guy in a suit that didn’t fit with a haircut that was right out of hedge trimming 101, with a briefcase no less. Guess who…

I kind of edged in behind them as they talked and watched. And what I heard was scary…He said to this fat guy…OK, right over there go the 150 hogs, and back there, where the cows are now, another 100. This’ll show those damn neighbors. I’ll stink’em out.

I’m not sure of the confined animal feeding operation laws in Ohio yet….animals per acre, drainage, manure disposition, flies, more flies, odors. But you just know I’m going to find out.

This isn’t going to be good, I think.