County cites Loudon property owner for junk, vehicles, bath tub after neighbors complain
By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
LENOIR CITY — Residents of a Loudon County neighborhood say they feel like they have been held hostage by a neighbor who refuses to clean up his yard.
According to residents of Lakeland Hills, located near Fort Loudoun Lake, the man identified in county records as Jeffrey Mcafee has for years filled his yard with old cars, boats, bathtubs, vending machines and other miscellaneous junk.
Neighbors say they are concerned the property is an eyesore that brings down property values, breeds mosquitoes and attracts other unsavory elements.
Russ Newman, Loudon County planning and codes director, said he is familiar with the property on Lake Forrest Drive. The county has ordered a “notice of violation” against Mcafee, records show.
“We have initiated action against the property owner,” he said.
The owner indicated March 22 he “was serious about cleaning up” the site, according to a county log. He had a March 26 deadline to appeal. He did not, according to county officials, so he now is required to clean up the property in time for an April 8 inspection.
The owner did not respond to several attempts to contact him at his residence. He asked a photographer not to take pictures of his house.
Action has been a long time coming, according to neighbors who describe a 15-year effort punctuated by many battles with the property owner.
“We’ve tried everything including talking to our county commissioner,” said a neighbor who asked that her name not be used because she is scared of retaliation.
She said that every time someone asks to have the property cleaned up the property owner brings in more junk, almost as if he is trying to get revenge.
“He thinks we’re all out to get him. All we want is for him to clean up his yard,” she said.
Several other neighbors said they were concerned about having the yard cleaned up but were afraid to speak on the record for fear of retaliation.
County zoning inspector Jesse Boling said he has had several interactions with Mcafee this year.
“He feels he should be able to do whatever he wants on his own property,” Boling said.
Although neighbors say they have made complaints for years, Boling said his records indicate the first complaint on the property was taken by his office in January of this year.
A violation letter was sent Jan. 30, according to records. Enforcement officers visited the property in February and spoke with Mcafee.
After one visit, Mcafee threatened to fill his front yard with old toilets and plant flowers in them, Boling said.
One of the reasons it has taken so long to get action is because Mcafee refused to accept certified letters sent to his home, according to Boling. The violation letter was sent several times.
The codes office spoke with him on the phone in March, according to Boling. He was told to remove a white van and three motorcycles, remove a bathtub from the front yard and, according to the county log, a “trailer needs to be hauled off.”
Boling said Mcafee acknowledged receiving the notice of violation, and agreed to clean up the property.
“We will go back out to the property on April 8 to see if he has cleaned up his yard,” he said.
If Mcafee does not clean up the yard to the satisfaction of the codes officers, a judge could order it cleaned by a private contractor. According to the violation notice, the estimated cost would be $1,200. If the property owner fails to pay the cost of cleanup, a lien can be filed against the property.
Two weeks ago, the front yard was filled with vehicles including vans, cars, boats and assorted debris. A tattered American flag hung over the front door next to a surveillance camera.
This week, it appeared some work had been done to clean up the front yard, although several cars were still parked in the yard, some with flat tires that looked as if they had not been moved recently. The back yard of the home is filled with a wide range of debris including old boats.