A judge has signed an order allowing the county to go in and clean up the property, said County Manager Dan McMillan, but that decision will have to be made by the county commissioners.
The cost to clean up the Combs property on Old Wilkesboro Road would be substantial, Edwardson said. He will be addressing the board at a future date.
Edwardson said the county could go in and remove all the junk items and materials, including old vehicles, and sell anything of value to go toward cost of the cleanup. If any money was left over from the sale of items, it could be given to the property owner. If there was a cost to the county for cleanup, a lien could be placed on the property for payment prior to sale of the land.
The issue of this junkyard came up years ago when the county adopted a junk ordinance and property owners with unsightly junk were required to clean up. Despite legal efforts to force compliance, R.J. Combs has yet to clean up his property.
Ashe County was successful in its suit against Combs in February, after a more than five-year effort to get the property cleaned up.
Junk of various descriptions, sizes and condition lines both sides of Old Wilkesboro Road just off NC 16 between Jefferson and Glendale Springs. The problem came to the attention of the Department of Transportation in the mid-1990s following acquisition of the right-of-way, and the county has been in litigation with R.J. Combs since 2005 following adoption of the junk ordinance.
According to John Kilby, attorney for the county commissioners who brought suit against R.J. Combs several years ago, the civil jury found that Combs is operating an unlicensed junkyard.
Kilby said the county chose not to impose civil penalties that had been assessed against R.J. Combs. The county had been assessing an allowed maximum of $50 per day that Combs was in violation of the junk ordinance, not in an effort to collect money but as incentive to comply with the ordinance.