Curtis Goss is cleaning up his act, moving junk cars from his 24-hour towing and road service business at the intersection of Puckett and Laseter streets in the heart of Nelson Heights.
Goss was scheduled to appear in Covington Municipal Court for violating the city’s junk car ordinance, but the case was continued because he had made a good-faith effort to clean up his property. Municipal Court Clerk Stephanie Finnie said Thursday that the city and court try to be fair to residents and give them sufficient time to clean up their yards once a formal notice is given.
The Nelson Heights property has been in the spotlight recently, because it’s located near the new Nelson Heights Community Center. However, Councilwoman Ocie Franklin said previously that residents have complained about all of the junk cars on Goss’ property, including the fact that some of those cars blocked the "Welcome to Nelson Heights" sign.
Franklin said she’s also heard complaints about Goss when he ran his business out of a Flat Shoals Road location.
"He’s determined to do that. I know he’s in business, but put up some fencing or do something," Franklin said previously. "He’s had this pattern all over town."
According to the city’s ordinance, inoperative vehicles without valid license plates can’t be left on private property or public roads if they’re found to "reduce the value of private property, to promote blight and deterioration, and invite plundering and vandalism, to create fire hazards, to constitute an attractive nuisance creating a hazard to the health and safety of minors, to create a harborage for rodents and insects, and to be injurious to the health, safety and general welfare and, when on city streets, to create a traffic hazard and endanger public safety."
Even under the city’s "automotive repair and maintenance" section, cars cannot be stored on greater than 25 percent of property nor closer than 200 feet to a residential property. Violations of ordinances can result in up to a $1,000 fine.
However, Jim Berry, a Covington code enforcement officer, said Thursday that it’s not junk cars that have been a problem during the economic downturn. He said abandoned apartments and foreclosed homes have resulted in many more resident complaints, including unkempt lawns and drug homes.
While local banks are generally responsive when the city calls and asks them to perform regular maintenance, some of the larger national banks rarely respond.
"Those are difficult, because many (of their phone systems) are computerized; you’re just talking to machines. People want to see action, but then we spend three, four or five days, and finally talk to someone … then the bank says it’s been told to stay off the property," Berry said. "It certainly causes a lot of confusion."
Vacant homes and apartments also need to be monitored to make sure people aren’t living there illegally or using the premises for drug purposes.
"I can’t even tell you how many empty places we have in Covington," he said.