Resident demands action on alleged junk collection

A Fort Dodge resident is demanding that city officials force a business owner to remove an accumulation of what she calls junk from a property near her home.

Lori Schmidt Arnold, of 724 S. 31st St., told the City Council Tuesday that Custom Auto & Towing is moving onto property near Eighth Avenue South and 31st Street. She the company has been placing cars and car parts on the site.

City Manager David Fierke said the city nuisance inspector will need her help to prosecute the company because the alleged accumulation of junk can’t be seen from the road, and he can’t go on the company’s property.

No one from Custom Auto & Towing addressed the council Tuesday. Gary Cathcart, the owner of the business, said later Tuesday evening that he would not comment because he wasn’t present at the meeting and didn’t know exactly what was said.

Schmidt Arnold said the towing company is moving into two old buildings that most recently housed Scotty’s Body Shop. She said both buildings have been vacant for about five years.

She displayed photos which she said show the cars and other materials on the property. She also showed photos of the company’s current property at 116 S. 21st St. which also showed a collection of cars and what appeared to be engines sitting on the ground.

”I think our responsibility should be to decent people like me,” she said. ”What’s wrong with our city when we allow people to do this?”

City Manager David Fierke said the property at Eighth Avenue South and 31st Street is zoned for commercial use, so it is legal for Custom Auto & Towing to open there. But he said the company cannot store junk there.

”I look at that and say, that’s illegal, that can’t be there,” he said, referring to the photos.

”Our inspector went by there today and didn’t see that,” he added.

According to Fierke, the inspector can’t go on the private property of the company.

”We need to work with you because we can’t see this from the road,” he said.

He asked Schmidt Arnold if she would allow the inspector to go onto her property so that the alleged violations can be documented. After some hesitation, she replied ”Of course.”