By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - The owner of a local junkyard has been summoned to court next month for operating a junkyard without a license.Roger Belanger, who operates a junkyard on property owned by Randy Gudroe on Route 94, also received two visits last week from a Department of Environmental Protection official, who inspected the property for waste spills.
"It [the junkyard] was a total mess," Tom Maleck, an oil and hazardous materials specialist with the DEP, said this week. Maleck said his division does not regulate the operation of junkyards, which fall under municipal jurisdiction. His inspection, however, came on the heels of a complaint that oil, hydraulic fuel, antifreeze and battery acid were leaking into nearby Puffer's Pond.
A junkyard has been operating on Gudroe's property for more than 30 years and is considered a grandfathered site, although under today's regulations such use would be prohibited because of its proximity to a body of water, according to Bill Murphy, code enforcement officer. Up until this year, the owners have applied for and received licenses to operate. But this year, the junkyard was reportedly in noncompliance with local ordinances and the Town Council denied the operator a license.
Town officials claim that even without a license, Belanger has continued to operate the junkyard. "We are taking him to court," Murphy said. He said the court papers were filed on Monday with Belanger's initial court appearance scheduled for April 11 in Newport District Court.
The license denial was based on the condition and operation of the junkyard.
Maleck said that he found a puddle of waste oil on the ground when he visited the junkyard March 18, but found no evidence that hazardous materials were flowing into the pond. "There was no indication of runoff into the pond," he said.
Absorbent pads were placed over the oil in the puddle to absorb the material, Maleck said. He recalled seeing upright batteries spread around the property, some of which were not in the best of storage areas.
A second visit was made to the site March 21 when Maleck was advised that cars were being crushed at the junkyard before fluids were removed. By the time he arrived, the crusher had been moved to another site in a neighboring town, which he also visited.
Belanger said Tuesday that he was not getting the same treatment that other junkyards were afforded by town officials. He said he has done everything asked of him by Murphy, including moving three vehicles that could be observed from the roadway and building a wall around buses on the property.
"They're running me out of business, they don't want me there," Belanger said. He said the town has threatened to fine him $100 to $2,500 a day for every day since Jan. 1 when his license was denied. "I intend to fight it in court," he said.
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