Morning Read: Backyard dumps and “local stewardship”

Chris Knight has a fascinating piece in yesterday’s Adirondack Daily Enterprise about a family near Paul Smiths that is allegedly operating an unauthorized junkyard.  Read the article and see a photograph here.

The property is filled with old cars, trucks, camper trailers, motor vehicle parts and other junk. The stuff has been accumulating for many years, highly visible on this main Adirondack highway.

The Adirondack Park Agency has launched an enforcement case, hoping to force the family to clean up the mess.

Knight’s article touches on an issue I’ve been wrestling with for a long time:  the notion that in the absence of regulation and enforcement, people will do the right thing, caring for the land and for their neighborhoods.

Last month at the public hearing on the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort this was a constant refrain by local residents who testified.

We know best, they argued.  We’ve been caring for the Adirondacks — and caring for it well — for a long time.

Bluntly, I’m skeptical.  I spend a lot of time in my pick-up truck driving around the Adirondacks, and I see a lot of really appalling cases of people not taking care of their land.

In my adopted hometown of Saranac Lake, meanwhile, we suffer from a plague of slumlords who have allowed their buildings to sag and crumble for years.

Parts of the downtown look flat-out grim, not because of government interference or neglect, but because a handful of private owners aren’t showing the care and stewardship that our community deserves.

What do these cases say about our ability to self-regulate?  What do they say about our ability to cajole our neighbors into doing the right thing without heavy-handed government intervention?

Obviously, government oversight can be taken to ridiculous extremes.  People shouldn’t be hassled over inconsequential or small-scale aesthetic issues, by the APA, by local zoning boards, or anyone else.

But when people’s junk piles mar whole neighborhoods, or when their eyesore buildings raise real public safety concerns — including vermin and fire hazards — surely that’s evidence that community pride and enlightened self-interest aren’t enough.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

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49 Responses to “Morning Read: Backyard dumps and “local stewardship””

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  1. Peter Hahn says:

    Aesthetics are a tough to regulate – whose values do you use? Safety is pretty straightforward. Rules – set backs – height limits- running a commercial business out of a residential neighborhood etc are easy. But junker cars on your front lawn? – or collapsing double-wide?

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  2. Keith Silliman says:

    I’ve often commented to myself about the amount of “stuff” one sees around homes in the North Country. At first I wondered why people did not keep their cars in garages in the winter. Over time I came to realize I was actually seeing evidence of the economic disparity between rural areas and affluent suburbs. Some people simply cannot afford to build a garage. Hence, you see “stuff.”

    Over the past 15 years, down in the suburbs I have also notice a different trend- the three car garage. I drove through a neighborhood recently and I swear the garages were bigger that the first home I bought.

    Yes there are appalling cases of neglect and trash; but for the most part people in the North Country do take care of their homes and land.

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  3. myown says:

    Many towns in the rest of NY have ordinances limiting the number of unlicensed vehicles you can store ungaraged on a property. Same for RVs, etc. If it is a junk yard business (and allowed by the zoning classification) then local permits require screening the property from public view.

    The article says that although the Town agrees there is a problem and tried to handle it with a liter law (inadequate) they have opted to let the APA pursue it.

    Bottom line – I don’t think Adirondackers are any better (or worse) stewards of the land than other New Yorkers but are less apt to approve local laws to deal with these kinds of issues.

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  4. MrSandwich says:

    I received a ticket in Potsdam during college because my car was parked on the grass and not on the blacktop. Our driveway was set up so all three cars had to be parked in a line. So we decided to park at an angle just off the blacktop so we didn’t all have to leave at once (or constantly switch cars around). Didn’t look bad at all but we were on the grass. Pay it.

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  5. Buny says:

    As a 5 year transplant to the Adirondacks, this is an issue in my face every day also. There is a “live free or die” mentality here that is pulling this area down down down. Over and over we see folks with more than adequate income living in what would be considered condemned properties in other states. I see very little respect for home ownership. I would recommend serious zoning laws to make these changes. Years ago I lived in a small rural town in another state. Ten years of haggling brought about highly controversial zoning changes and a lot of mad residents. You should see that area now. It is gorgeous, no slummy areas any more, lots of moneyed transplants from the big city. People embraced their architectural heritage and are truly house-proud.

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks I see in this area is the county government. Towns have very little autonomy. I know of folks who want to clean up areas like St. Regis Falls, but their is no central town leadership to inspire that move. The county does not seem to care if there is an empty bat infested, plywood boarded large brick building in the center of the town and neither does the state. The blight continues.

    My husband and I will be moving from the area. Its geography is magnificent and one of the things that brought us here, but driving by the blight on a daily basis and meeting those who could care less is very disheartening. Back to a place where people are house proud…

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  6. Amaredelectare says:

    When a person constantly deals with abject poverty, wondering all day at work whether the bent rim on his old car will hold air enough in the tire today so he can fill it at Stewart’s air pump tonight and return home after work and hopefully have enough air left to make it in tomorrow, the psychic entropy involved spells disaster for all the other “important” things going on in his life. Too proud to ask for help and perhaps unaware of opportunities available, he continues to etch the best out of society that he is able to. Along come those who have less psychic entropy in their lives who can afford the mental work of “cleaning” up the Adirondacks for those less fortunate. This tension has been at play for decades. Providing education and lower taxes would help more than punishment.

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  7. Pete Klein says:

    God but I hate the word “alleged!”
    The place is a dump. It is a perfect example of “It’s my property and I can do whatever I want with it.”
    Same attitude existed in the South with slavery. Mine, mine, mine – the eternal cry of the child.

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  8. Bret4207 says:

    Ya know, there’s a fine line between proper upkeep of your property within reasonable standards and poking your nose in where it has no business. I find it to be more simple elitist attitudes than anything else when people complain about someone elses property appearance. Is there harm being done? Probably not. Where is the compassion and understanding for the not so wealthy people that are trying to get by? Not much of that anymore that I can see.

    Think about it- we closed the dumps where, at least in the places I lived, there was always a “drop and swap” area for “stuff” that wasn’t really trash. IOW, it was recycling. We can’t burn anything and God help you if you have or planned on having an outdoor wood boiler! You’d be better off taking up child porn photography than owning an OWB these days. We have to have debates over someone having a half dozens laying hens inside a Village limit! What has happened to us? Is there no respect for the concept of private property anymore? It’s all well and good if you’re a vegan putting solar panels on your home, but man, don’t you dare put up a windmill and stable a horse.

    The world just doesn’t make much sense anymore. It seems like people want us to all live in little cookie cutter, sterile housing units where even flying a flag is something you have to get permission for.

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  9. dave says:

    I’m glad to see you raising the issue Brian.

    Since moving here this has been one of the few negative surprises to me. I am shocked at the way property is generally treated up here. And I am not just talking about slumlord situations or people dealing with extreme poverty… although, I can’t even fathom the level of poverty it takes to not throw out your garbage.

    Sure, you can certainly lament private property issues when talking about this subject, but the context of this conversation is this Adirondack notion that “we can take care of our land just fine without regulations and agencies”

    Frankly, I haven’t seen much evidence for that, at least as it applies to small property owners.

    That said, I believe when some people make this claim, they are not really talking about their front yard… they are talking about it in larger, broader terms.

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  10. scratchy says:

    This is not characteristic of most people in the Adirondacks. i think it is insulting to generalize to all Adirondackers. Elitist attitude like this irritates me. Wiithout the APA, local codes could enforce junk yard and litter laws. Many localities opt not to now, because they assume the APA act, a dubious future assertion given the possibility of large layoffs in the understaffed agency. And if local government doesn’t act, people can vote for new representation. That’s the way

    One thing that isn’t being discussed, is the inadequacy of many local trash and garbage disposal services. Not all localities have weekly pickup and theren’t a lot of landfills, placing a burden on many families.

    Anyone who thinks Saranac Lake looks bad should take a drive through inner city Utica or Troy.

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  11. tootightmike says:

    I’m a person who always looks, and always notices, as I drive around. I’m keenly aware of the difference between having a broken down pickup, or a project car next to your driveway, and the beginnings of a junkyard. Sometimes my own projects stretch out a tad too long, and I’m always aware of what that looks like to my neighbors. Keeping a tidy eye on things shows, even if the whole thing isn’t cleaned or removed. Inattention, however, is obvious. Lack of care in your yard translates to lack of care for the neighbor.
    When I drive across the county and see a burn barrell spewing, I call the DEC 785-2231. When I see a fertilizer spill on the street, or an illegal landfill, I call…It’s easy and something gets done…now.
    Perhaps it’s time to do something instead of just complaining. This time of year, before the grass and leaves come out, is great for finding, and picking trash. We cleaned out the empty lots in this neighborhood a few years ago and gathered four pickup loads within about 500ft. of our house. Put on your gloves and make the world a better place

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  12. Bret4207 says:

    Mike, that has got to be the most arrogant, pompous post I’ve read here in a while. Maybe, I hope!, I’m misreading that, but it sounds to me like you are setting yourself up as the judge of what is and isn’t right. Your junk is okay, but someone elses isn’t. And then, rather than approach the party involved you just call the complaint in like some snitch!

    Wow, I’m simply amazed.

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  13. dave says:

    “Anyone who thinks Saranac Lake looks bad should take a drive through inner city Utica or Troy.”

    True! Although, to my knowledge, those folks are not making the assertion that they are caring stewards of the land… whereas, that is often the claim up here.

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  14. Mcculley says:

    We all see the eyesore and wish we didn’t. The problem whether here or in Troy or Utica, is people who live in poverty don’t care about aesthetics or the environment. It’s called survival for them.

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  15. Pete Klein says:

    The issue is simply how you think of yourself. It shows in the way you treat your property. It shows in the way you dress yourself and take care of yourself.
    Poverty is not an excuse. You either take pride or you don’t.

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  16. Mervel says:

    Sometimes it comes down to expense.

    Instead of penalizing people we should look to grant and loan programs to encourage people to repair their homes and property.

    Also tyveck is not permanent siding something we need to learn.

    I have less sympathy for the landlords who let their properties go, that is a local zoning issue though, villages have the power to take care of that if they choose. However landlords often hold quite a bit of political sway in these communities.

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  17. PNElba says:

    The Knight article concerns a property on the bottom of Easy St. hill in Paul Smiths. In the Fall I go past the property twice a week. My first impression was that the owner was mentally ill (seriously). This property is beyond an eyesore, especially compared with every other property on the hill, which are mostly immaculate. That isn’t an elitist statement, it’s a fact. I’m not even sure how the “junkyard people” get into their house. I take from the article that the owners are not mentally ill, but have knowingly created a junkyard….illegally. Again, we are not talking about a burn barrel and a couple of junk cars. It is way, way, beyond that.

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  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I just want to reiterate a point that has been mentioned, appearance of your property is not a wealth or class issue. Plenty of people of limited means keep their property neat as a pin.

    I like Mervel’s idea of grants or loans for maintaining property. I know there are some programs to help the poor and elderly to improve the efficiency of homes but wouldn’t it be great if each town had a revolving low or no interest loan fund for minor property repairs, new roof, painting, and such?

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  19. jillvaughan says:

    My children have benefitted from this woman professionally- anyone who sees the place would know there are issues with “stuff”. Weigh that against her professional merit- we all can benefit from kindness and thoughtfulness if we don’t know the whole situation.

    We moved to a farm in the Adirondacks over twenty years ago. I pictured bucolic afternoons under the maples, ice tea in hand, surveying pastoral beauty. We have eight children, ten grandchildren, and an endless procession of people from across the world visiting us. We work off the farm- the kids who live close work off the farm, and on it. The kids still in school work early and late. We just finished sugaring- burn our own wood. The yard is still littered with bark and wood pieces. We plant- we make endless hay, have had 41 lambs in the last two weeks, and calving season is starting. The animals have been taken care of all winter. We cut our wood, warm out house, have dozens of diverse species on our place. We’re organic, grass fed, and I consider myself a steward of the 450 acres we know and love. Steward, but not cosmetologist. Muy kids have work ethics that don’t quit. The land has benefited from us being here, and we work off the farm to pay the taxes so it can be cherished and produce, or lay fallow like the beaver dams we have, where bald eagles, bear, coyotes, turkeys, mink, otters, all sorts of birds, etc., live. The number of endeavors that we undertake make aesthetics a lower priority. We raise hundreds of flowers- they’re in a garden , to sell, rather than for display. The lawn gets mowed when the hay doesn’t have to come in, the food processed, or the cows tended. When things converge and we sit under the maples, as we do, it’s a celebration of rest and family- and I have learned that the hard way- to let go of the dream in service of the land. Stewardship, not cosmetology.

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  20. Bret4207 says:

    OUTSTANDING JILL!!! Very well said! (And it’s lambing time here too, I share your misery)

    I’d just like to ask again, what business is it of ours if someones house and yard isn’t “as neat as a pin”??? Cripes folks, the same people who maintain that what people do in their home doesn’t matter are saying that the mere APPEARANCE (aesthetics again) of someones home should be cause for legal action!!! Really, I don’t mean to be harsh or cranky, but this is a double standard of the worst kind. How can you possibly claim to be fair and open minded when you sit in judgment of your neighbors and look down on them because they happen to have a little more redneck in their blood?

    Elitism, nothing more, nothing less.

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  21. Will Doolittle says:

    Watching the movie “Winter’s Bone,” set in Appalachia, recently made me think about this same issue. In that movie, set among the many members of a big family of cousins (and meth dealers), the families’ yards are trashed — junked refrigerators on the lawn, junk cars, and garbage. But the people (setting aside the whole dealing-meth part) live off the land, at least to a much greater extent than I ever have — hunting deer and squirrels. And they are poor, so not consuming much in the way of fossil fuels. Think about it. Beautiful estates, or even nice houses like those on upper Park Avenue in Saranac Lake, are doing a lot more damage to the environment, through the use of fuels to heat the house and the water for bathing, water for lawn sprinklers, gas for the multiple cars in the garage, grain for the steaks the family can afford for dinner and so on, than that trashy house on Easy Street. OK, it’s ugly. You don’t like to look at it. That’s a legitimate complaint. But, unless there’s gas and oil pouring out of junked cars onto the lawn, the poor families in the trashy looking places are doing much less daily damage to the environment than the well-off families on Park Ave.

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  22. myown says:

    Bret says: “I’d just like to ask again, what business is it of ours if someones house and yard isn’t “as neat as a pin”??? Cripes folks, the same people who maintain that what people do in their home doesn’t matter are saying that the mere APPEARANCE (aesthetics again) of someones home should be cause for legal action!!!”

    There ya go again – building strawmen. As much as you want to frame this situation as a case of some liberal elitist do-gooder against the poor common folk it just isn’t there. I don’t know these people and I haven’t seen the property, but from the newspaper article it doesn’t sound like it’s just a complaint over the grass not being mowed or the shrubs not maintained. The article says the Town of Brighton has been trying to do something about the situation for several years. I’m sure the Town Council members would be surprised to hear they are all a bunch of liberal elitists.

    I haven’t seen the property in question so I wouldn’t begin to pass judgment on that particular situation. I don’t care what color your house is or how long your grass is or what you want to store in your front yard. But I will say if someone is dumping trash down the bank of a stream, or disposing of oil or other chemicals on the ground or the smoke from my neighbor’s burn barrel blows into my house I will not hesitate to complain or call the authorities.

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  23. Amaredelectare says:

    A life of prolonged adjustment-by-concession brought on by economic disadvantage or some other essentially jeopardizing disorder is sufficient to disrupt and weaken nearly anyone’s goals. It must be very difficult to invest attention to pursuing such lofty ideals as an ordered yard when chaotic psychic entropy reigns. What is controversial and offensive to the passerby may appear innocuous to an entity significantly dwarfed by detrimentally unfavorable situations and conditions.

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  24. Will Doolittle says:

    yeah, Amare, what you said!

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  25. tourpro says:

    @Dave I doubt any of the “eyesore” people are making stewardship claims – the people doing that mostly say that as part of a larger agenda.

    @mervel Grants or Loan program? No thanks. It’s highly unlikely that those you would target for such a program would seek out or even attempt to complete a grant application to “clean-up” what they perceive is OK.

    I think @scratchy is correct. This is not unique to the Adirondacks. If that were so, then the TV show would be named “Adirondack Hoarders”.

    It’s a Cultural issue. Relatively speaking, everyone has a different notion of what is proper in terms of neatness and organization. Your typical NCPR-type probably doesn’t live in a trailer park, so it’s perfectly understandable the “outrage” at what might be called in-private “white trash”.

    This is why civil societies create laws regarding pollution, and why governments write zoning laws and codes regulating behavior. If there is a problem, it’s the lack of such rules and/or lack of enforcement.

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  26. PNElba says:

    Yeah, that chaotic psychic entropy really interrupts one’s flow.

    The same people who have a personal grievance against “those people” that don’t pay taxes, are now defending the seemingly impoverished. The junkyard is now being compared to a farmyard with sheep being born and hay and wood being cut. So “real America”, so idyllic. The lack of concern about what one does in one’s bedroom and with whom is juxtaposed with too much concern about an illegal junkyard. The “libs” are now the bad guys who don’t support the average man and live in large mansions consuming never ending quantities of carbon spewing fuel. Amazing.

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  27. jillvaughan says:

    I absolutely do not believe my life is idyllic or “real America.” It’s simply my life, and I know my farm is not a thing of beauty. If the place was a junkyard that was a business- there would be changes in the vehicles- and I don’t think there is. Anyone who sails through the beautiful valley, and drops down Easy ST. should be so in love with life that they can handle one yard that’s obviously the place a “character” lives. That’s how I regarded places like that when I was a kid.

    I was merely making the point that there is a currency of money, a currency of time, that allows for the luxury of beauty. I love to feast on it, appreciate people whose places are beautiful. But we can’t all manage it.

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  28. dave says:

    What a neighbor does in his bedroom doesn’t affect anyone else. What a neighbor does with his property, potentially does. It is not that hard to see a difference between the two.

    And yeah, how on earth did we get from a hoarding/junkyard scenario to a farmyard with sheep? Good point PNElba.

    Worth repeating that no one is talking about simple unordered lawns here – at least I don’t think anyone is. In the news report, and in the properties I am thinking about around me, it is a pretty obvious and over the top case of garbage and trash and junk dumping.

    Will, Winter’s Bone had me thinking about the issue too… while watching it I looked at my wife and said something along the lines of, “that kinda looks like up the road.”

    BTW, I didn’t even know what Tyvek was until I moved here. That comment cracked me up Mervel.

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  29. jillvaughan says:

    We got to that point because I have parts cars and some of the kids have project cars and we have farm equipment that’s older than dirt- and un-beautiful -(but that we’ve nursed along, and is sustainable, Will) That’s why I responded- because our farm has a bunch of stuff sitting around that is necessary or that someone thinks is necessary. Priorities, frame of reference… change how we see and experience things.

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  30. Bubba says:

    There is an Adirondack mentality that one should leave junk where it lies. The absence of a non-functioning appliance on the front porch and a truck up on blocks in the front yard simply indicates that the residents weren’t born in the Adirondacks. Even when towns adopt junk laws, the elected officials refuse to enforce them!

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  31. Buny says:

    What business is it of ours? Let’s try property values to begin with. Other than the megahomes for the wealthy on the waterfronts, property here is some of the cheapest in the country. That was one reason why we moved here and we looked at a lot of places! I have traveled and lived in many places and have never seen so little respect for one’s property as I have seen here and that includes the South and out of the country. This is not a wealth or farming issue. There are some gorgeous farms around here. Clearly those farming families have different priorities and manage to make a living. As far as wealth and survival, I don’t buy that theory. My grandmother used to always say”there is no excuse for not using soap.” If someone is unemployed, don’t they have more time than the working folk to take care of their property? I came from a very large family with one dress in the closet until I started sewing for myself in my teens. Our home was neat. Our home was clean. There was no junk around and we didn’t have a basement or garage to hide it all in. It’s all a matter of priorities. As said before, tyvek is not siding, tarps are not roofs, and the two skidoos in the yard cost quite a bit. It’s different priorities. I see it over and over.

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  32. Bret4207 says:

    Strawman Tourpro? You mean like “…But I will say if someone is dumping trash down the bank of a stream, or disposing of oil or other chemicals on the ground or the smoke from my neighbor’s burn barrel blows into my house I will not hesitate to complain or call the authorities.” As far as I know we weren’t talking about people dumping trash into streams, etc. As far as I know we were talking about the classic 3 dead freezers and a junk car in the front yard. We seem to be talking about the single wide with the 2 ATV’s and a collapsed cheapy swimming pool or the place with 35 sled dogs chained to their barrels and a back yard that looks like an artillery range. ie- white trash, rednecks, woodchucks, our version of Indias untouchables. Asthetics, that’s all we’re talking about. And for the record, I have some neighbors that could compete with anything you could possibly imagine in the way of “Ugly Property” contests, but the very last thing I would do is try and sick the law on them for that.

    Property values? Cool, so we all have a Mc Mansion and the values go up and taxes with it? Yeah, you guys really thought this through, didn’t you?

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  33. Bret4207 says:

    I’d just like to point out that the overall tone of those of you sitting in judgment of everyone else is that you’re SHALLOW. It’s all about looks, that’s why we can’t have cell towers, windmills, logging or industry, much less a couple of parts cars in the side yard next to our scrap metal pile.

    You really should be ashamed of yourselves.

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  34. Paul says:

    I don’t really get the premise of this blog? We have plenty of regulations against this sort of behavior, this is an enforcement issue.

    “”I think the reason for that, in part, was that we found out that the Adirondack Park Agency was taking some action, so we figured we’d just hold back and let that happen,” Quenell said.”

    This is a very common theme with the overlapping regulations we have in the Adirondacks.

    I think many people really do want to do the right thing. When they hold an annual “free” dump it day in the fall in St. Regis Falls I see folks bring in all sorts of stuff that they would probably have to leave on their property if they had to pay the tipping fees. You didn’t see all the tires along the roads in the Adirondacks when you could get rid of them without paying an arm and a leg.

    This place in Paul Smith’s is pretty extreme. Given their actions I think that maybe these folks might have some other “issues” and it may not simply be a lack of “community pride”.

    In most cases I think that you will see a pretty close correlation between income level and property maintenance.

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  35. oa says:

    Some of this is starting to remind me of that cringe-worthy scene in “American Beauty,” where the guy’s videotaping a garbage bag blowing in the wind, and talkiing about its heartwrenching loveliness.
    I’m with Mervel: a hovel’s a hovel, and some of them (stuffed with hoarders’ garbage) not only break laws, they’re firetraps that could affect a neighbor and kill the inhabitants.
    We’re a big, rich country. We can choose to fix up the hovels (by offering incentives, as Mervel suggests, or by enforcing already existing laws) or we can let them decay and rot until it looks like the third world. Either way, we’re making a choice. And evidently, there’s lots of vocal support for dangerous hovels!
    One other thing: Cross the border from Mooers to Hemmingford some time. Lots of taxes in Canada, but the farms are much nicer and more “house proud.” I don’t know why, but the difference is pretty stark.

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  36. jill vaughan says:

    I was raised near Hemmingford- and that’s why I feel so conflicted- we were a seventh generation dairy farm- there was never any equipment sitting out, my mother landscaped like mad. That’s what my expectation was. Then the reality set in. My parents never had to work off the farm, expectations were much lower in other areas- health insurance, two pairs of shoes, etc- I need to provide things for my children that weren’t dreamed of then. It’s been very hard to let go of the feeling of failure that things aren’t “neat as a pin.” Things get done- but they get done on a different timetable when there are ust a couple hours ot do it all. We’re not talking about whether my house is clean inside- it is- we’re talking about the fact that Brian was linking the looks of a place with stewardship. When I know the difference between my parents situation, and our situation, I know why ours looks less like Martha Stewart.

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  37. Paul says:

    “One other thing: Cross the border from Mooers to Hemmingford some time. Lots of taxes in Canada, but the farms are much nicer and more “house proud.” I don’t know why, but the difference is pretty stark.”

    My guess is the difference is income.

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  38. Paul says:

    “We can choose to fix up the hovels (by offering incentives, as Mervel suggests, or by enforcing already existing laws) or we can let them decay and rot until it looks like the third world.”

    Enforcement doesn’t seem to be working too well on this one. I assume that after we don’t collect the $200,000 dollar fine we will haul them off to jail where we will pay for their incarceration. Then we will also have to foot the bill for the clean up.

    I bet if they could have hauled all this stuff off to the dump without much cost we wouldn’t have a problem. Only issue there is that we regulated all the local dumps out of existence.

    My guess is that these folks can’t afford to haul it away and they can’t afford to not haul it away.

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  39. Peter Hahn says:

    I gotta agree with Bret on this one. If it were up to me (it isnt), I’d make the McMansions illegal for aesthetic reasons.

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  40. Bret4207 says:

    To be clear, I don’t care for the looks of a lot of places just like the rest of you. I’d love to see everything neat and clean and “proper” as my grandmother put it. But it comes down to understanding that people have different values and frames for reference on how they look at things. I imagine some of you here would look at my farm, especially this time of year, and give the “tut, tut” kiss of death. But I know how much work is put into this place. So who am I to “tut, tut” at some old guy whos yard is a mess because he can’t maintain it like he used to, or the guy who has 3 or 4 cars torn apart in his yard because he can’t afford to take them to the shop. or the folks whose place look like a dump but is a thriving business? There’s a farm not far from me that looks like a disaster, yet the people that own it are big into the whole politically correct/renewable/organic stuff and have people from all the colleges there daily. The place looks like a dump but it’s a thriving farm. So how or why should I sit in judgment of them? To be truthful, the best looking places in my area are Amish farms and so are the worst looking places. What business is it of mine?!

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  41. Paul says:

    One thing to consider. Why doesn’t this area have a free metal recycling service. Most places now have a place where you can take this kind of stuff. One man’s garbage is another man’s gold!

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  42. oa says:

    “I imagine some of you here would look at my farm, especially this time of year, and give the “tut, tut” kiss of death.”
    Bret, with all due respect, you frequently seem to imagine someone is out to get you, or looking down on you, or something. Nobody’s looking down on a working farm here, I don’t think. But fergawdsakes, there are building codes for a reason, and for whatever reason, nobody up here ever seems to enforce them. And so we accept that there will be tragic fires every single day in the winter. In my town, we don’t even fine people for not shoveling the walk. No enforcement. It’s not polite, or don’t tread on me, or something. The college slumlords get away with packing 9 students into a two bedroom house. No enforcement. These things don’t have to get to the $200,000 fine level, as Paul sarcastically states, before we do anything. It’s just citizenship. And yes, personal responsibility.
    And by the way, we should foot the bill for hoarder-horror cleanup. One rotting house, one “broken window,” can bring down whole neighborhoods, or a whole small towns, inviting in crime and destruction and decay that’s ultimately much more expensive to eradicate. That’s a conservative policy, by the way. Worth reading some James Q. Wilson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixing_Broken_Windows

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  43. Bret4207 says:

    OA, I’m not trying to play the victim at all. I’m just trying to point out that this idea that appearances tell the whole story is bogus. I do have some experience with this and I suppose that colors my reaction to more elitist attitudes. I wasn’t always the suave, debonair kinda guy you’ve come to know and love, okay? I’ve been where a lot of these people are, the working poor, driving the beater $300.00 car ‘cuz that’s all you can afford. I can relate to a good many of these folks I see people here running down. I have a whole lot of sympathy for those that are trying to get ahead in life rather than sitting on their duff waiting for Uncle Sugar to dole out the money. I think that’s who a lot of these people are. I’m just saying cut them a break. Try an be a little understanding rather than sicking the APA on them or calling the law.

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  44. Amaredelectare says:

    “But, Master” said the pupil to his mentor as they drove through Brighton, “Why do you intervene in these matters, knowing neither you nor the person with ‘junk’ filling the lawn are the true owners of the land?”.
    “It is his Karma to ‘fill’ the yard with junk; it is my Karma to object”, answered the Master, matter-of-factly.

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  45. Bret4207 says:

    “But Master” said the pupil, “Why do you speak in riddles instead of plainly stating your thoughts?”

    “Because it irritates people and that’s how I get my jollies!” replied the sage Master…

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  46. oa says:

    Bret, That 8:40 comment sounds pretty dang liberal. They’re going to throw you out of the Galt Lodge.

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  47. Bret4207 says:

    Not at all OA. Galt was all about work having worth, that those who produce something are entitled to fair compensation and that those who don’t produce, but just take deserve nothing. The working poor are not the takers by nature. Their work may be under compensated compared to the corporate CEO, but both produce more than the pure taker waiting for someone to provide for him.

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  48. oa says:

    That’s great. And I hope you enjoy the Rand movie on its opening weekend, and that it produces boffo box office!

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  49. Bret4207 says:

    I don;t have much hope for “Atlas” translating into film. Rands characters are very reserved and outwardly cold. They are also very deep. I don’t know how you can translate that into film.

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