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Posted: November 14, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Nelson Heights sign and junk to be removed

Work trucks may be allowed to stay

Curtis Goss has removed many of the junk vehicles that littered his small lot at the corner of Puckett and Laseter streets, and residents say it’s about time, though they wonder when it will be fully cleared.

However, that’s where the situation gets a little murkier, because some of his business vehicles may be able to remain on the property long term.

The city ordinances clearly state that inoperative vehicles cannot be stored outside on either private or public property. Additionally, all of the car parts and tires stored in the gazebo on Goss’s lot also need to be moved to some enclosed structure.

He has until Dec. 8 to remove those remaining infractions, after receiving an additional 30-day extension this month to clear up the property, said Covington code enforcement officer Brett Reed.

Reed said Friday that Goss was given the extension because he had made progress, by removing around six cars, and needed more time to finish the process. “When we handle code infractions, our goal is compliance, not to go out there and fine people … or go out and take people’s property,” he said. “He’s working to clean it up, but there are timeline and cost factors.” However, the trucks and other vehicles that he uses for his mobile 24-hour towing and repair service are a different, more complicated story.

The city is revising its parking ordinance, and Goss’s trucks would most likely be allowed to be parked on the property. Goss has no actual building on his lot, which would often prohibit him from parking vehicles there, but he has had a business license for the 7173 Laseter St. location for the past few years. Even the property’s zoning doesn’t provide a clear answer. The property is zoned neighborhood mix, not residential, and certain businesses would be allowed there. However, Goss’s is not one of them.

The city revised its zoning in July 2008, so Goss’s use is now considered a legal, non-conforming use. Senior Planner Scott Gaither said that means that if Goss was to ever discontinue his business for six months or more, the property would no longer be allowed to be used for automotive repair or storage of trucks. Another repair shop sits two lots down in the same zoning and would likely be in the same situation. Many residents said Goss’s property looks like a junkyard and they want to see it cleaned up. Geraldine Moore who owns and rents out the lots right next to Goss, said the sight of the junk cars are not a welcome one to his neighbors and the sounds of repair work sometimes keeps her tenants up at night. “It makes the neighborhood look so bad,” she said Thursday. Other neighbors agreed that they wished Goss would clean up the property. The area has come under increased scrutiny, because the Nelson Heights Community Center was opened this summer.

Goss’s lot sits catty-corner to the center and also houses a battered “Welcome to Nelson Heights” sign. According to the city’s mapping system, the sign is on Goss’s property, which is officially owned by his mother Bertha Goss, who was a former city councilwoman. Goss could not be reached for comment, but spoke at the Oct. 4 council meeting. He said he is working to clean up his lot, but didn’t understand why everybody was picking on him.

“Nelson Heights is not just based on me…Everybody seems to come through and they have tunnel vision in Nelson Heights. There is a lot of improvements that can be made in Nelson Heights besides just that corner that I’m on,” he said, noting other eyesores. “I don’t know why everybody is putting all the pressure on me, when it’s not just me at Nelson Heights … Now I got people riding by picking every day, we have started war out there in Nelson Heights with the people come picking,” he said. “I’m doing what I can to clean it up…I’m trying to make a change at Nelson Heights at that corner.”

Goss said he was tearing down the sign and would close off the gazebo because residents drink beer there during the weekends without permission. He also said the city does not appropriately take care of its right of way on his property. Councilman Chris Smith commended Goss at the meeting and said the property looked much better. Councilwoman Ocie Franklin said Wednesday that she and the other councilwoman that represent the western side of Covington have received many complaints about Goss’s property and she looks forward to having it cleaned up.

Goss was originally called to municipal court in September, but asked for a continuance and received 60 days to clean up his property.

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