Alton going after alleged 'junkyard'

ALTON — The town has petitioned the Belknap County Superior Court for a permanent injunction to stop a local man form operating what the town calls a junkyard on Church Street.

In the filing, Town Code Enforcement Officer John Dever III, said that Mark J. Hanson of 28 Church St. started using the property "for (an) automotive and truck junk yard, motor vehicle repair yard and motor vehicle/parts storage or dealer facility" shortly after he purchased it on December 22, 2005.

Dever said this week that operating commercially is "primarily a zoning issue," and operating a junkyard is against town regulations and violates the state laws regarding junkyards.

The town issued Hanson a notice of violation on May 6, 2013 ordering him to immediately stop using the property for commercial use or as a junkyard. Dever said Tuesday that Hanson was told he had 30 days to appeal the violation notice with the Zoning Board of Adjustment but never filed for a hearing.

When Dever was asked why the town waited eight years to cite Hanson when the paperwork said he began the alleged illegal activity in 2005, he said the activity on the property had escalated within the past few years.

He also said an investigation revealed some items listed for sale on Craig's List (an Internet exchange and sales site) and Hanson had been seen hauling scrap from the site. Dever also said that while Hanson hasn't officially responded, the Church Street property is neater now than is has been in the recent past.

The town, said Dever, considers any commercial use of the property a zoning violation because it is in a residential-zoned area. He said under the former zoning ordinances, the property was zoned as residential-commercial but noted that any commercial use needed a special exception and Hanson never applied for one. He said he also would have needed a site plan approved by the Planning Board and that never happened either.

The town, wrote Dever, is entitled to assess a civil penalty of $550 per day for each violation after issuing the second notice, which was issued on June 25, 2013.

Efforts by The Daily Sun to reach Hanson by telephone were unsuccessful.

CUTLINE : (Church Street Property) Rain falls on cars parked in the front and side yards of a house on Church Street. The town claims the property is being used as an illegal junkyard and has filed for an injunction against owner Mark J. Hanson in Belknap County Superior Court. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)