Commissioners come to agreement on Combs property

By Jesse Campbell -

(Photo submitted) Junk and clutter still line the property o f RJ and Tommy Combs.

JEFFERSON-Ashe County Commissioners agreed Monday morning to finally settle property cleanup and back tax issues on a piece of property on Old Wilkesboro Road in Jefferson.

For years, commissioners and county authorities contended with the piles of garbage and debris that have accumulated on the property of R.J. Combs. The litter and waste could often be seen from the road by passing motorists and neighbors.

In October 2011, the county entered into a judgment against the property for the cleanup. To this day, the county still has a $22,900 judgment against the property and until Monday morning it appeared little headway had been made on the cleaning up the land.

Gabe Miller and his mother Florence Miller approached the county Monday regarding the judgment in hopes of getting it negotiated. Gabe Miller spoke on behalf of Florence Miller as she prepares to take ownership of the land.

During the county’s ongoing dialogue with Miller, County Manager Sam Yearick discovered the property had $6,600 owed in delinquent taxes. One of the owners of that same tract of property also owes $2,530 in back levies. Adding on to the situation, a relative who owns property that adjoins the Combs property owes a little more a $1,000 in taxes to the county.

To clean up both the literal and financial mess, Florence Miller proposed negotiating the judgment against the property and paying down the delinquent taxes on all three pieces of property in addition to completing the cleanup.

In addition to some miscellaneous debris, the junk yard is also home to a trailer that R.J. lived in with his brother Tommy and approximately nine broken down cars.

The county’s current junk ordinance only allows for 600 square feet of trash or junk to be left behind.

The family did feel like R.J. was “singled out,” according to Florence Miller. He has since passed on and Tommy is currently living with the effects of depression.

“He was singled out,” Florence Miller said. “He was no criminal. He was no drug addict. He just had a rough life.”

She said the brothers moved to the camper due to mobility and financial reasons.

From the beginning of Monday’s presentation, it appeared that county commissioners were willing to negotiate the offer.

“It would appear to me what the county was after originally was cleaning up a stretch of road,” said County Manager Sam Yearick to the board Monday. “It looks like a reasonable offer. I think if we needed to clean up the Billy Hall property, we could expect to spend the same amount of money plus legal fees.”

Ultimately, the board voted 3-2 to negotiate the judgment under the terms provided and forgive the $22,000 if the owners agree to keep the property clean for ten years. The owners now have until July 15, 2017 to clean-up the garbage.

Commissioners William Sands and Larry Rhodes said they were reluctant to vote yes on the matter because of the possible implications of a possible lingering lawsuit filed on the county in regards to the earlier judgment.

Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.

(Photo submitted) Junk and clutter still line the property o f RJ and Tommy Combs. submitted) Junk and clutter still line the property o f RJ and Tommy Combs.

By Jesse Campbell

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