By Mark Waite
Pahrump resident Rick Flores complained Nye County sold a tractor, farm equipment and other material taken off his property for $7,650 to a recycling company, but he was still hit with a $6,291.20 bill Tuesday for the cleanup of a nuisance property at 561 W. Irene St.
For years Flores served as a poster boy for code violations; his property was first declared a nuisance on Sept. 20, 2005. It was the first nuisance cleanup undertaken by the county billed to the owner.
Flores received numerous delays over the years. He complained of back problems, for example, and the cleanup was then put on the back burner as the former district attorney declined to take aggressive action. He was allowed to keep some cars classified as classic cars.
At the Tuesday meeting, Commissioner Joni Eastley brushed aside Flores’ last-minute protests and made the motion to assess the costs as a lien on his property. Nye County Code Compliance Officer George Bernath said it will be placed on his tax bill.
“You told me I was allowed a tractor and some farm equipment that the county got and you turned around and sold it to recyclers,” Flores said. “The tractor that was removed from my property was a 580 Case backhoe, it was worth $15,000. I lost a $7,000 mobile home trailer that I was promised I’d get back to my property,” Flores said.
He threatened to file grand theft auto charges against Ron Murphy Construction, which did the cleanup.
Flores also talked about piles of recyclable material he was going to sell to get money to pay for cleanup costs.
“The cost for the metals totaled close to $7,650 that the county netted from CB auctions and also gave to the state. So I feel you guys took my metals and are double dipping on the charges; you’re charging me on the metals you took from my property,” he said.
Ron Murphy Construction turned in a $4,800 invoice for removing items. The Nye County Sheriff’s Office billed $626.70 in overtime costs, and there was a $864.50 invoice for landfill fees.
The list of items filling up 12 dump truck loads over two days included the charred remains of a fire that contaminated soil and gravel, two crushed up old mobile homes, numerous garage doors, window frames, plywood, pallets, broken cinder blocks, a burned out backhoe and numerous other items.
Flores said he was using torches to help workers cut up some of the debris. He asked commissioners to declare it a wash and not levy the lien.
“I do believe that we have to get together with the community and start helping each other instead of getting angry, because personal property is personal property and one person’s junk is another person’s treasure,” Flores said.
He claimed to have medical records showing he underwent surgery. The nuisance complaint was aggravated recently when there was a fire on the property and Commissioner Gary Hollis said he drove by the property recently and saw all the debris.
Flores complained about being demonized in the press. Former code compliance officer Dick Johnson complained Flores threatened his life if he came on the property.
“I’ve never accosted someone. I’ve never said anything wrong. George and me got along perfect,” Flores said.
He demanded answers on complaints he wasn’t allowed to dispose of junk cars without titles and allowed to take items to the recyclers. But by that time, Nye County Commission Chairman Lorinda Wichman said his time to talk had elapsed.
Even Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, typically a staunch defender of property rights, indicated his patience had run out.
“I’m loathe to do anything on private property but after five years and plenty of deliberation and plenty of time, I’m satisfied with my vote here today,” he said.
Flores was one of three properties on the nuisance list for several years. Now Bernath has a list of other properties he’s eyeing for a cleanup.
Commissioners Tuesday also declared the existence of a public nuisance at 6880 Oakridge Ave., which is a treasurer’s trust property.
A citizen complaint was received Aug. 2 about a burned-out house with trash and debris causing a safety and health hazard. The property owner, Richard Shantz, died. His widow listed the address but Bernath said a letter sent to that residence was returned with no forwarding address or way of contacting the owners to inform them of the meeting.
A fire broke out at the mobile home Sept. 19, 2011. Shirley Shantz, her daughter Julie and son Richard, fiance Ronald Kramer and three dogs, escaped with little more than their pajamas.
District Attorney Brian Kunzi explained the county doesn’t own a treasurer’s trust property but merely holds it in trust for the owner.
Eastley explained a public nuisance is one that affects a considerable number of people, like an entire neighborhood or even a whole community. Bernath said based on his inspection Aug. 7, he determined it was a public nuisance, due to the trash and debris scattered over much of the property and an abandoned garage housing numerous pigeons.
A Pahrump bidder with a state demolition license submitted a quote of $7,390 to clean up the property, including the demolition of the garage and small shed, but not including landfill fees of roughly $1,300.
On Oct. 16 commissioners authorized the declaration of a nuisance at 4080 W. Medicine Man Rd.
On Sept. 18, commissioners authorized a cleanup of 6,000 to 8,000 cubic yards of mostly concrete and Styrofoam at 2471 W. Larsen Dr. before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD takes possession.
Commissioner Butch Borasky asked Bernath Tuesday about cleaning up a property at 3021 Cactus St. on the corner of Homestead Road, which was built and never occupied due to a failed foundation, with broken out windows. Bernath said he isn’t allowed to take action unless he receives a written complaint, adding it’s now easier to file complaints online.