Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lecompton, resident square off over ‘junk’

March 8, 2007


A long-standing disagreement between the city of Lecompton and a property owner about his yard was kick-started Wednesday.

"I'm a recycler," Michial Coffman said.

Lecompton mayor Roy Pasley, left, describes to Lecompton resident Michial Coffman items the city will remove from Coffman's property that are in violation of a city ordinance. Pasley and Lecompton city attorney Lee Hendricks toured Coffman's property Wednesday and informed Coffman of the city's decision.

Lecompton mayor Roy Pasley, left, describes to Lecompton resident Michial Coffman items the city will remove from Coffman's property that are in violation of a city ordinance. Pasley and Lecompton city attorney Lee Hendricks toured Coffman's property Wednesday and informed Coffman of the city's decision.

But Lecompton city officials and staff members see it differently.

So Wednesday morning, a group of city officials and staffers arrived at Coffman's 4-acre tract with a contractor - to plan how to clean up numerous items, including lumber, wire, metal tires, concrete, metal and machinery.

The city even obtained a court order, saying it has the authority to clean up the property. The court order, signed by Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy, further says Coffman cannot add "general junk" to his yard.

The dispute between Coffman and the city has continued for about eight years.

Lee Hendricks, the city's attorney, says the city has repeatedly tried to work with Coffman, who has lived at 645 E. Second for more than 20 years, but he has not complied with all requests.

"If anything else, it's our mistake for letting this go on for as long as it has," Hendricks said.

Coffman, who is known around the area for making meals out of deer struck by vehicles on county roads and highways, calls it a "conspiracy" and said every time he attempts to clean up and organize his property, the city continues to come after him.

Hendricks disagrees.

"(Coffman) will pick up a little bit, but he won't do everything that we ask for," he said.

Murphy signed the order that was filed in November that said Coffman has failed and refused to comply with the city's ordinance.

After a miscommunication with city staff, the removal company on Wednesday only inspected the land - instead of starting work - and it now will begin at a later date, Hendricks said.

Coffman had written a letter to Murphy in September and claimed that his property was valuable and not junk.

Coffman also mentioned a time in October 2004 when he was out of town and a city crew dug a pit on his property and bulldozed and burned items that included an antique soda machine, solar water heaters, parts of a disassembled glass and metal greenhouse, cedar lumber and a propane tank.

Joe Blubaugh, a Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokesman, said the state has mandated that the city remove the burned waste. Lecompton has been cooperative, and KDHE has not ordered a specific deadline, he said.

Hendricks said the city will pay to remove that waste from the property. In Murphy's order, Coffman was to pay for the cost of cleanup. He was also to be prohibited from letting other items build up in the yard, such as leaves, refuse, appliances or vehicles.

But Coffman maintains the property contains items that can be of use to him and others, such as metal and other parts.

"I'm a fun-lovin' hillbilly, and all I want to do is just be left alone," Coffman said.

He injured his back several years ago in a vehicle accident and lives on disability payments. He said he was leaving the state today to be with family members. And when he returns, it's possible his 4 acres will look different.

"This order doesn't say he has to be there," Hendricks said.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

Judge Murphy have you ever taken a walk by the southeast corner of 11th and New Hampshire? It's our county commissioners who have been refusing for years to clean up in spite of numerous neighborhood requests. What's up with that?

ksmattfish 10 years, 6 months ago

The south east corner of 11th & New Hampshire would be the police station.

compmd 10 years, 6 months ago

Property ownership isn't what it used to be. Oh, and thanks LJW for informing us that supposedly Coffman is violating some ordinance, but not saying what that ordinance is. Does the city of Lecompton have nothing better to do with its resources?

ksmattfish 10 years, 6 months ago

The cops have a junky yard? I live in the neighborhood. They've always seemed well manicured to me. In the dog days of summer time the generic, yellow day lillies get kind of ratty looking, but what can you do?

redfred 10 years, 6 months ago

Harley is right. Merrill - the county does not own that property. They own the two lots to the south of that one.

Jackalope 10 years, 6 months ago

Merrill - you don't seriously think that judges have the authority to walk around town and find cases on their own?

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

I live in Lecompton. This property is horrible. Should have been cleaned up years ago. He has had numerous requests to clean it up but has never complied. Good job Lecompton!!!

jafs 10 years, 6 months ago

Mixed feeling on this one - if it's his property and he finds those items valuable, why does the government have the right to destroy them?

On the other hand, if they are an obvious blight on the nieghborhood, I can understand why neighbors might object.

BTW, why no comments about the city's incursion and destruction of seemingly valuable items without his knowledge/consent?

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

This property is across the street from Democratic Headquarters, a historical sight. There is no fence. He had been given notices on the previous attempt at clean up. I do not agree with the way they tried to clean it up that time. Mike is a very nice, likeable man. He just needs to clean up.

concernedparent 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you tweetybird. The town needs to be cleaned up and they have to start somewhere.

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

There are other properties that need to be cleaned up. It is a lot better than it was when I moved there 25 years ago. It's come a long way.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 6 months ago

I find some of my neighbors ugly to look at, and a blight on the community. Not their property, just the neighbors themselves.

Can I get them removed?

I_Bejewel 10 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Coffman, in my opinion, is showing some clear signs of "hoarding". If he does have such an affliction, I will guarantee that even if they clear off his entire property, within a year, you will be hearing about him again. It is a mental condition that is not going to be cured by stripping him of his possessions. Somebody should step up and help him so that he can get rid of the "junk" and keep what is valuable. Of course he will have to admit that he has a problem and is not just a "fun-lovin' hillbilly".

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

Some citizens a few weeks ago did help him clean some. Even some council members.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 6 months ago

My Wife: "How come you never pick up your crap?!"

My new response: "I'm a recycler"

Bejewel, you may be right, but after 8 years of this, it looks like he's no closer to seeing "the problem". There comes a point where the people who have to look at the mess just want it cleaned up, even if he is sick. I nearly bought a house on Ponderosa (a MUCH nicer house than the one I ended up buying), but didn't buy it because the guy next door had way too much junk in his back yard. It's a real problem if you own a home near that kind of crap.

Confrontation 10 years, 6 months ago

My mom has a neighbor who is worse than this. Unfortunately for her, she lives in a small town where nothing is ever done. Her neighbors have at least 12 cars in their yard, never mow their lawn, feed the wild creatures that are drawn to their trash, collect random crap, and one of them is a registered sex offender. Talk about trash!

budwhysir 10 years, 6 months ago

One mans junk is another mans eyesore. On the other hand one mans junk may be another mans way of making a living. Any way you look at it, it doesnt realy matter in the end. I wouldnt say that what this man has on his property has ever effected my every day life but it may bother his neighbors, however, the article does not mention any of the thoughts of his neighbors, seems like they have it in for this fun lovin hillbilly. oh by the way, what does making meals out of car struck deer have anything to do with this matter???

acg 10 years, 6 months ago

I don't think it has anything to do with it bud, so much as they wanted to make this guy look as dumb and as white trash as possible. Maybe they should've helped the guy erect a privacy fence instead, so he can keep his junk and they don't have to look at it. We all have to live on this rock, folks, and it takes all kinds. What may be an eyesore to some may mean nostalgia, money, familiarity, comfort, etc. to someone else. They shouldn't have gone on his property and messed with his junk. It was wrong. But what do we honestly expect in this age of NIMBY a**holes running and ruining everything. No one just lives and lets live anymore. How sad. Oh and before anyone jumps down my throat about me not wanting it in my neighborhood, I have a junkie neighbor, as most of us do. His "junk" has saved my bacon twice as he had the part we needed to fix our water heater and a piece of perfectly sized metal my husband needed for the greenhouse. These things were just laying in his yard and he recycled them thru us and we saved $$. Not too shabby.

budwhysir 10 years, 6 months ago

Well put acg, not sure why they are making such a fuss over this guy that no one has complained about but you know how it goes

unite2revolt 10 years, 6 months ago

I know Mike from the volunteer work he did prior to injuring his back and going on disability. He is a good guy. Its unfortunate that he is having to go through this public scrutiny. I'm not even sure I understand why this is in the paper to begin with.

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

I believe it was his choice to go public.

concernedparent 10 years, 6 months ago

I wonder where they're going to haul his junk with the bridge being closed and all? (Sorry, had to throw in a bridge comment)

concernedparent 10 years, 6 months ago

PS that picture kinda makes it look like Pasley wet his pants.

cybermaiden 10 years, 6 months ago

I was so bummed when the city I live in made me throw away my "lawn Couch". sigh In a way aren't we all just a toilet bowl and a lawn couch away from white trash? Hmmm...Somephin' to ponder.

michial2 10 years, 6 months ago

At what point does it stop being cleanup and start being destruction of personal property! What is next his house? The lawyer says he will do as he damn well wants because he has a court order. After this example to a man with limited funds and no way to defend himself anyone in town can be run over in the same way.

I have read the city ordinace and Mayor pansy(oops!)pasly is in violation at his own home. The good mayor also owns an emty lot within veiw of coffman's place that he wishes to sale!! So who is benifiting from this?

yellowhouse 10 years, 6 months ago

I have heard that the City came out and burned a bunch of tires and other biohazard items in a pit on this property just a few feet from the river.

What determines acceptable and unacceptable?

tweetybird2 10 years, 6 months ago

michial2 the mayor can't vote unless there is a tie. In that case I'm not sure what they would do. I think it would be a conflict of interest too. I belive they did things wrong the last time. I hope they learned from it.

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

Agreed - the mayor has nothing to do with it. Small town councils don't tend to make trouble until someone brings it up. I bet within 20 years someone has mentioned it.

boxturtle 10 years, 6 months ago

I've seen the property and it's out of the way of other people. This is just a personal vendetta masquerading as a court order. I sure wouldn't want to live in Lecompton if I can't even have my sense of asthetics on my property. Total abuse of the Law.

Stunerik 10 years, 6 months ago

Since everyone is so concerned about this mess, why don't you make the short trip to Lecompton and see for yourselves? The "cleanup" is going on as we speak. Part of the problem is that the City has been working while Mr. Coffman is away, and nobody is there to look out for his interests. If you care, go there and see it yourself. Also, anybody who suggests that Mr. Coffman is suffering from some mental condition is a simple fool. The acquisition of property is a basic tenet of capitalism. "Hoarding" is the American way, and labeling Coffman as a mental case is, by extention, a condemnation of Our Most Cherished American Traditions, you dirty stinkin' Lawrence hippy.

bevy 10 years, 6 months ago

As far as I know, Mr. Coffman's property has looked like that for years. Nobody cared until the Hysterical Society re-did the democratic hq (which, in case you don't know, was pretty much a shotgun shack until the owner died, and they bought the land and building)

The transplanted Yuppies from Lawrence have taken over our city government. They also passed an ordinance saying that people can no longer have horses in town, though several people have had them there for many many years. If it's historical ambiance they want, what's wrong with a few horses?

Too many of our government officials have lost sight of the fact that we do have PRIVATE PROPERTY in this country. Unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of others, they need to BUTT OUT. If you don't want to live next to a guy with a junky yard, then don't buy a house next to him! What happened to individual freedom?

What the paper doesn't tell you is that the City Council has been sending out notices in town off and on for the past couple of years. This one seems to have become a vendetta, though. And they were completely wrong to invade and destroy his property while he was away.

Unfortunately Marion beat me to the "call it art" comment. Maybe Mr. Coffman could stack up a bunch of cars, call it "Carhenge South" and it would attract the tourists the Society is so desperate to drag through our quiet neighborhood. I'll probably be next on their list now.

micah6_8 10 years, 6 months ago

Transplanted Lawrence yuppies? I only know of one Lecompton Councilperson who is not a generations old resident of Lecompton, and that person drives through Lawrence (really, really fast) to get to Lecompton.

micah6_8 10 years, 6 months ago

Oh, and by the way - Coffman's place is/was a stinking junkpile that he has collected (old tires, metal scraps, used lumber, general junk, etc.) that he has hauled in from other people's trashpiles, then dumped all over the property, letting weeds and trees grow up and through it all. Not to mention the (still standing) board in front of his place that he hangs (within ten feet of the street) rotted, petrified catfish heads on.

As to Coffman being a recycler, something is missing from the picture. By definition, a recycler brings stuff in, processes it, then takes stuff out. That is what a "cycle" is all about. Mr. Coffman just piles up debris. Period.

Yes, he is a nice ole hillybilly,but he is also a packrat. His idea of "treasure" is what most others hold their nose and haul to the dump. I don't fault him for that. However, when his property is an eyesore to any who drive by, then the city should step in and enforce its own ordinances.

When a person's actions affect others, then it becomes more than simply one man's right - it becomes everyone'[s concern. Let's try to set up a "recycling" center like Mr. Coffman's in front of an important Lawrence attraction and see how all you insipid, bleeding-heart liberals like that.

Power to the people, peace, love and all that recycleable material.

Lovin_my_babes 10 years, 2 months ago

Lecompton and the city council members have nothing else to do with their time but to harass and talk on residents behind their backs, I have lived in Lecompton for 32 years and Im here to tell ya, I have heard and seen it all with these "up standing council Members", There is NOTHING private to your property here, so the word "Private Property" should be Non existent, They Try to control your Life the way THEY want you to live it, Its Down right Bull****! If Pasly wants "Clutter" removed, maybe he should start at his front door....where ever that may be.

There are a couple of them city council folks that just need to be done with, when your "Supposed" to be a friend to all and "help" out when needed but all you get is a good back stabbing and stomped on with untrue stories of others it turns your stomach, There's not one of them council members better than the rest of us, but they act like it. It's all about Control, Not about Clean Up! I could go on and on..... but I might get into trouble. I hope they realize that once they point a finger, three more get pointed back! That ol' hillbilly is just fine, let him be!

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 2 months ago

Was there something new to add to this, or are we just dredging it up "because"?

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