Messy property owner: 'Just leave me alone'

By Valencia

WANDO, S.C. (WCIV) -- The front yard of Edward Martin was filled Monday afternoon with used mattresses, old furniture and broken electronics. Tuesday was much of the same except there was a truck filled with mattresses and a man rummaging through the back yard.

When asked who he was, the man said he was the property owner - but, refused to give his name or do an on-camera interview. The homeowner said he was beginning to clean.

Meanwhile, his neighbors say he was just dropping off another load of junk. Either way, neighbors say they want fast action. {}

"When you ride by there, it's awful," said Ella Washington, who has lived in the area for 70 years. "And, I rode by with my window down, and I could smell the scent coming in my car."

Neighbors say Martin strips old mattresses then pawns the metal for cash.

"I understand everybody has to make money, you know," said Mary Mizzell, a neighbor. "I understand that cause times are hard. But, you're bringing it into where families are here and there's kids."

On Tuesday, officials with the Berkeley County Codes Enforcement say they hand delivered a citation worth $1,092.50 and ordered Martin to appear in court.

Last Thursday Martin was set to appear in court but, never showed up. Neighbors question whether or not he will finally follow suit.

"I doubt it very seriously. If he do, it will be surprising," said Washington.

Martin has a court hearing set for Oct. 3. That's when a judge will decide how long his has to clean up the junk. Officials say normally a judge gives a period between 10 to 30 days.

Berkeley County officials say if Martin does not abide by the rules, the county has no money, equipment nor resources to take care of it themselves. Therefore, they'll have to depend on volunteers to help.{}

When asked about the growing problem of rotting furniture and old electronics outside the home, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said the issues did not appear to be a threat to the public or the environment.

"This would appear to be a local litter law issue or a potential zoning matter instead," and agency spokesman said.

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