Some residents of the Government Hill neighborhood said clean-up work has come to a complete stop at a recycling center that moved away and left a big mess.
Now, it looks as if the man who owns the land will be stuck with a big remediation bill, even though he did not create the problem.
Rose Hill is the neighborhood president and says that she and her neighbors have been fighting for a little more than one year to get the city to take action and bring residents some relief.
Hill said that the former site of Ascent Recycling at the 300 block of Seguin Street in East San Antonio is more than an eyesore. She called it a public health threat.
“When you break the law, you must be held accountable! And in this instance, this man has been getting away with highway robbery. It's not right!” Hill exclaimed.
Hill also said that neighbors are tired of blowing trash, dust, rats, and the stench of stagnation.
“We had no idea that it was going to take one year,” said Hill, who added that no matter how long it takes, she and her neighbors will not stop until they see action. "I think this is criminal now.”
Even though this is a civil matter, Hill said she believes penalties should be enhanced in this case.
Branden Ray Lopez is the attorney of record for Ascent Recycling.
Lopez did not respond to a request for comment from KENS 5, but the attorney for the man who owns the land said that neighbors will see relief soon.
“The first priority is getting that property secure so no other trash can be put on the property," said attorney Marc Whyte, who also said that in the time since Ascent abandoned the property, other unknown people have been using the parcel as an unauthorized dump.
A contract has been negotiated with a remediation firm and Whyte said that he expects work to get underway within the next week or so.
Whyte added that he expects the site to be cleaned up within the next six weeks, with the $100,000 cost paid by the land owner.
“He's owed, at this point, just in back rent, somewhere around $80,000 now. And when you add that to the bill he's going to have for cleaning up the property, ‘nightmare’ is a good word to describe the situation,” said Whyte, added that the owner entered into a lease agreement with Ascent hoping for the best. “To have a tenant do to him what Ascent has done has been unfortunate, and he's really frustrated by it and saddened by it. And again, not only for the financial toll that it has taken on him but also for what it has done to the surrounding community. He certainly, if he can, wants to make it right.”
“We want the residents of Government Hill to go back and have the quality of life that they once had,” Hill said.
While she is hopeful that action may be coming soon, Hill said that after a year of broken promises, she’s always skeptical.
“Until we see action in place, we're not going to believe it. We want to see action,” Hill said.
While it offers little comfort with this problem, a new initiative passed by city council may prevent this type of problem from happening in other neighborhoods.
District 2 Representative Alan Warrick asked for and won approval for a new Neighborhood Preservation Policy that would bar businesses that have caused problems from obtaining new permits to operate.
Here is the news release the City of San Antonio provided about the new program:
Councilman Alan E. Warrick, II Implements Neighborhood Protection Policy to Protect Residents from Repeat Bad Business
San Antonio- May 4, 2017
Today, City Council unanimously approved the Neighborhood Protection Policy. The new policy, led by Councilman Alan E. Warrick, II is an effort to ensure clean, healthy, and safe neighborhoods are maintained not only in District 2, but throughout San Antonio. Once a certificate of occupancy is pulled twice, the business will be unable to secure a certificate for at least 1 year. This will aid in improving quality of life, environmental equity, and keep bad businesses out of neighborhoods.
"This company has taken advantage of this older neighborhoods and just put piles of trash right across the street from homes, this type of action will not be tolerated in my community.”
- Councilman Alan Warrick, II
“We are glad to see that steps have been taken in the right direction, and keep bad businesses out of neighborhoods.”
- Government Hill Neighborhood Association President, Rose Hill