Breckenridge Texan

City, county team up with West Central Texas Council of Governments on dumpsite cleanup

City, county team up with West Central Texas Council of Governments on dumpsite cleanup
April 23
09:03 2019

On Monday morning, just a few feet outside the Breckenridge city limits in the 300 block of North Jackson Street, a group of local officials walked along a dirt path that weaves through overgrown mesquite trees and high weeds. Large piles of debris were scattered on both sides of the path.

Included in those piles were old automobile parts, tires and wheels, rotted and dried out piles of lumber and construction material and even some old broken toys. There were also a couple of dilapidated old sheds on the property that squatters had been living in recently.

The group included Stephens County commissioners, County Judge Michael Roach, Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney and Breckenridge Assistant City Manager Houston Satterwhite. Accompanying them was Doug Burks, the Environmental Project Manager for West Central Texas Council of Governments. He had traveled from Abilene to meet with the local officials to survey the area and see how the WCTCOG could assist the city and county with cleaning up the area.

“We’re here today to try to help the City of Breckenridge and the county commissioners with a large, illegal dump site that they have and try to see what we can do to remediate and get it cleaned up,” Burks said. “We have funding available to be able put towards having cleanups done.”

Two separate properties to be cleaned up

There are two different properties at the area that need to be cleaned up. One is a five-acre plot which is located on the east side of North Jackson. The other area includes the two lots directly across the street on the west side, at the corner of North Jackson and East Dyer Street.

According to Chaney, the city and county took possession of the properties about a month and a half ago because of unpaid taxes. He said they were put up for sale but did not receive any offers because of all the cleanup that was required.

Because the Breckenridge city limits runs along North Jackson Street, the five-acre lot on the east side of the street is outside the city limits and Stephens County is responsible for cleaning it up. The two lots on the west side are inside the city limits and are the City of Breckenridge’s responsibility to clean up.

Trespassers and people illegally living on the property

Chaney, whose department overseas code enforcement for the city, said both of the properties had people trespassing and illegally living in the substandard structures on the property from time to time. He said trespassers had also torn some of the structures apart and sold off the metal from the structures as scrap metal.

“They tore all the structures down, sold all the metal,” he said. “A lot of this stuff that you see outside in plain sight was at one time inside barns or under cover; not that that made it legal, but that’s where it was.”

The city and county have put up the barriers at the property to let people know that the property now belongs to the county and city and that they need to stay out, Chaney said. He said anyone who crosses the barriers is trespassing and can be arrested or fined.

WCTCOG assistance

Burks said his program is funded through the USDA Solid Waste Program and they also have a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality program that helps with these types of dump sites.

“What we’re going to try to do is get a couple of tire trailers in here,” he said. “There’s a large amount of tires on both of these properties and we’re going to try to get those removed and get those out of the way.”

Additionally, he said they would also provide roll-off dumpsters to load trash in to be hauled off and they would contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and see what can be done to remove the wood from the properties.

Burks said the cleanup is split into two different areas. The county portion is the five-acre cleanup, and the city portion is the two lots across the street. The work at the cleanups will be done by City and County employees.

Chaney said once the properties are cleaned up, they will put up for sale.

As for when the cleanup will start and how long it will take, Burks said there is no timeline yet.

“The law is slow where this is concerned,” he said. “And cleanup has be done properly and they have to be done correct, because there’s rules and regulations that we have to follow.”

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

A barricade set up by Stephens County workers blocks the entrance to the property in the 300 block of North Jackson Street. The property was recently taken over by the county for unpaid taxes, and the barriers were set up to warn people not to trespass on the property. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Doug Burks with West Central Texas Council of Governments (left), Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney and County Commissioner Will Warren, along with other county and city officials, inspect debris on the property on North Jackson that needs to be cleaned up. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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