Arundel seeks an injunction against owner of junkyard

Severn man has ignored court order, attorneys say

July 18, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County attorneys are seeking a court injunction against a Severn man who they argue has violated zoning laws by operating a business and a junkyard out of his home on Thompson Avenue.

In the complaint filed last week in Circuit Court in Annapolis, the county alleges that Oliver K. Brooke Jr., whom residents know as "the Mulch Man," ignored an administrative order from the county zoning office in August. The order called for Brooke to remove piles of mulch, "junk and debris," unkempt vehicles and vehicles without current registration plates from the property.

The injunction also would call for Brooke to stop operating the Mulch Man "commercial lawn service" promoted on his answering machine from his home and proposes a fine of up to $500 a day for each day that the nearly year-old order was violated.

"We've sent him letters, and there's been no compliance," said Eric S. Wellens, an assistant county attorney. "It's a residential district. He's not going to be permitted to keep commercial vehicles there."

A county zoning inspector who visited the property last month said there was a Jeep without license tags, two commercial trucks and three utility flatbed trucks parked behind a garage.

"He and I have talked about what's behind that garage, and he keeps promising he's going to remove it," said Linda Simpson, the zoning inspector who turned the case over to the law office. "He's got a problem, and he's not opting to do anything about it."

Simpson said her office began investigating after receiving a complaint last year.

The court has not scheduled a date for a hearing, a county attorney said. Brooke did not return phone calls to his home.

Community leaders said they were not aware that neighbors had complained about Brooke, but they were not surprised that a resident had inoperable vehicles in his yard, or that a resident was operating a commercial business from his property.

"There are probably a dozen sites around Severn where somebody's got an old truck or bus in the woods, and unless somebody complains, nothing is going to happen," said Mike Shylanski, president of the Greater Severn Improvement Association. "It's regrettable, but we've got a number of places like that that predate the communities."

Deanna Reis, who grew up along Thompson Avenue playing with Brooke's dogs, said Brooke's mulch business has operated for "at least 20 years" and she has never heard complaints from neighbors.

"There's a lot of people who do what they're not supposed to. We've got goats next door, come on," Reis said. "We've got farms in one house and the Mulch Man down the street -- what's the big deal?"

Pub Date: 7/18/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.