WEST WYOMING — Borough Solicitor Linnell Lukesh summarized the series of events leading up to the eventual shut down of an Apollo Drive junkyard at Monday’s council meeting.
Joe Russell, who operated Russell’s Hauling Company at 12 Apollo Drive since February 2012, had been cited and fined numerous times for illegally operating a junkyard at the site.
Since April 2012, nearby property owners have complained of noise, smells, smoke and other violations coming from the business. Last month, a county judge found Russell in contempt for violating Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough’s cease-and-desist order in early August.
Russell was found not to have proper zoning or licensing to operate the business.
Lukesh said she and council were recently made aware of a posting on borough resident Gina Kneeram’s Facebook page, suggesting that council is “involved in some bizarre conspiracy” regarding the delay in shutting Russell’s business down.
Lukesh said the Facebook posts were slanderous and intended to “vilify” past and present borough officials. Council president Eileen Cipriani said she and many residents who contacted her feel that the Facebook comments are “shameful and disgusting.”
Lukesh pointed out that the legal process of citing and shutting down a business is lengthy and beyond council’s or her control.
“We’ve devoted many resources in trying to solve this problem,” she said. “We’ve succeeded in completely closing the business down to the bare walls.”
Ferretti Drive resident Charles Umphred said he never gave permission to pass around his comments from his personal email and post them on Facebook. Umphred said his comments were just theories and “what ifs” and were never meant to offend anyone.
Umphred and longtime partner Cynthia Kaneely live near Russell’s Hauling and said they have been negatively affected by the business.
“We’re being driven out of our homes,” he said.
In other matters, council honored former longtime councilman Dan Gadomski with a moment of silence prior to the start of the meeting. Gadomski died nearly two weeks ago. Gadomski had also served the borough in the past as an auditor and a longtime fireman.
Council also announced:
· A curbside leaf pickup would be held on Nov. 20 and Dec. 4.
· Residents can bring private documents to be shredded to Northeast Salvage on Blackman Street, Wilkes-Barre, from 8 a.m. to noon on Nov. 9. This is a free service to borough residents.