By Dan Hust
ROCK HILL July 16, 2002 The Town of Thompson says their property isnt screened enough.
Neighbor David Paige says theyre operating a junkyard.
Mort and Caroline Rosenblum say all they want to do is expand their impound yard in Rock Hill.
Those three forces collided last Wednesday evening at the town hall in Monticello, where the Rosenblums successfully attempted to convince the planning board and the public that their modified site plan was acceptable.
But that doesnt mean the Rosenblums are happy about it.
Its a waste of money, laments Mort Rosenblum, whos operated his I-86 Service Center on Glen Wild Road in Rock Hill for about a year. (Hes been in the same line of work, however, for 16 years.) What do they [the planning board] want from me?
The Rosenblums have spent tens of thousands of dollars within just the past year to hire lawyers, architects and surveyors to meet the towns demands. Up until recently, they felt those demands were reasonable, but on Wednesday the town required double-screening on a chain-link fence and more trees surrounding a yard in back of the automotive repair center.
I dont see any problem here, said Mort as he toured on Saturday the roughly 3-acre parcel where cars and trucks sit in various states of disrepair.
On all sides save the one that fronts the service center, 40-50-foot trees and a single-screened chain-link fence stand tall, somewhat obscuring all but the taller tractor-trailers and delivery trucks.
Why do I need more screening? he asked while gesturing towards the edges of the property. You tell me.
Yet the town required just that of the Rosenblums last Wednesday, with planning board member Bill James in particular voicing concerns.
I went out there and found the screen on the fence to be somewhat sheer, like stockings, James said at the meeting.
Still, the planning board unanimously approved the modified site plan to virtually double the size of the yard.
The town, however, has so far refused to address neighbor David Paiges concerns, and Paige says hes ready to take them all to court.
Were going to go as far as we have to go, he said while observing the service centers backyard from his adjacent 19 acres.
In addition to running a company which leases mobile field offices to various businesses, Paige rents out a house that sits about 150 feet away from the I-86 fence.
He charges that the Rosenblums are operating a junkyard, not an impound yard, and thus they are subject to much stricter town and state laws than what are being enforced.
Thats all junk, he said as he waved towards the lot on Saturday. It decreases the value of my property. And its illegal. You cant have it.
He feels theres a scam going on, with corruption and collusion within town government. He also said he talked with both the county Sheriffs Department and the State Police, and neither utilizes I-86 as an impound yard.
Mort Rosenblum, however, says it is a lawful impound yard run by a licensed motor vehicle dealer. He doesnt use any cars for spare parts or sell them for junk.
Besides, I dont want any of it, he said. Its a pain in the ass. What do I do with it?
According to Rosenblum, he cant move the vehicles because they are impounded by law enforcement and insurance agencies, and if either the officials or the owners come looking for their cars and find them gone, he will be held liable.
I cant touch them, he said. If they come back, Im in trouble.
And so the vehicles sit in the yard many of them inoperable, several unclaimed for months. The cars, however, are parked neatly, and only the occasional oil spot or broken glass can be found in the yard.
Still, the second set of screening is on order for the fence, and the 30 new four-foot trees have been planted although the Rosenblums doubt they will grow in the shade of the nearby adult trees.
Business remains brisk, and Mort said his other neighbors some of whom spoke positively about the center at Wednesdays meeting are on good terms with him.
The front of his center, which employs about 15 people, is immaculate, with small shrubs and a flagpole dotting the landscape. Carved bears welcome customers. Even a wellhead is covered up by a fake fire hydrant.
I dont know what were doing wrong, said Caroline Rosenblum.