One man's trash, another's headache

Friday, July 29, 2011

An unidentified Lewisburg resident posted a sign in front of a rental house on Fourth Avenue expressing frustration at the landlord who's now provided his side of the story.

The sign was removed on July 11, less than 24 hours after it was posted, according to a couple of residents of that neighborhood who called to tell the Tribune of their concerns.

Meanwhile, the city codes officer says the owner has been cooperative and proactive.

"We've had problems in Lewisburg since the city privatized trash collections," Dr. Garry W. Love DDS of Columbia said when asked about an unofficial complaint posted so publicly at one of the homes he owns.

When Lewisburg Public Works conducted trash collection, the service was "the greatest in the world," Love said in telephone interview this week.

To avoid larger problems with sanitation service, city councilmen voted for a contract with Allied Waste, the company that now provides curbside collection of household trash and takes it to Middle Point Sanitary Landfill in the Walter Hill Community north of Murfreesboro. Allied owns Middle Point. Councilmen hired Allied Waste because it's been unclear whether Waste Management Inc., the company with Cedar Ridge Landfill just west of town, was going to get state approval to expand its landfill. That's still true and the city's contract with Allied is now in its second year.

Haley Hickman of 664 4th Ave. North was the second Tribune reader to call about the sign that nobody will claim as theirs.

"I think it's kind of neat that someone would put a sign up," Hickman said. "You don't normally see someone take a stand and call out a slum lord."

Love was aware of the sign when he was telephoned. Tenants frequently leave personal possessions, furniture and other objects that must be hauled away before the house can be rented. Sometimes a tenant's behavior requires more than average methods of disposal.

"We've used a magnet to pick up beer caps," Love said. Before bottle caps were removed, he said, "We didn't dare mow the lawn out of the fear of killing somebody" when the mower slings the cap like a bullet from the mower's blade.

He and his son try their best, but have been faced with an "overwhelming amount of trash left behind" by tenants, he said. "People leave stuff in storage areas ... and we have rebuilt three times in two years on one street in town" and have had tenants who are less respectful of their landlord's efforts.

Lewisburg "has been a good area to work in," the property owner said. "It's not near as hard as Columbia, where we've been written up for a spare tire on the sidewalk."

Love asked rhetorically: Why would he put a tire on a sidewalk in front of his rental property?

Hickman noted the house at 658 4th Ave. North saying, "The front porch was trashed. I just like it that somebody had the gumption to put a sign here."

Furthermore, the sign did get results, she said.

Gary Marler said he's lived near the house for six years.

"That first winter, we had two mice, but (the former tenants) moved out three months ago," Marler said. "Trash is there still, and I've killed 16 mice in my house in two weeks. My landlord is paying to get the mice exterminated. I never had this problem. It's pathetic."

Marler had less diplomatic words for the owner of the house.

He was asked: "Who put the sign there?"

Marler replied, "I have no idea. Couldn't say. No comment."

Asked if he put it there, he replied with a question, "And if I did?"

Marler is unemployed, but he's taking steps to remedy that.

"I'm studying to get my electrical license," he said, adding that he has provided electrical service work.

His wife is unemployed, too.

"I guess, I'm just one of the millions of statistics," he continued. "I've done a lot of praying on it and feel that I'm the kind of guy who ought to be self-employed."

Marler and his wife have two children ages one and two.