Commission tosses case against repo man
Bill Martin wasn’t the worst offender on Mesa County Code Enforcement’s list, but there he was on Tuesday, standing in front of the Mesa County Commission as No. 1 on the list.
Martin had a ranking of 19 points, according to Code Enforcement’s new code-violation point scale, for allegedly operating an illegal salvage yard. The highest ranking case on Code Enforcement’s list has 25 points. On Tuesday, Code Enforcement sought permission from the board to file legal action against Martin.
The problem with Martin’s business, according to Code Enforcement, was the storage of junk vehicles. But Martin owns a repossession company, A-1 Repossessions, 518 30 Road. He said the cars are stored on his property temporarily before they are hauled off for auction. His property is zoned for business.
“Calling this a storage yard is the biggest misnomer I have ever heard,” Martin told the commissioners. “Every vehicle in that yard is either owned by me or a bank.”
By the end of the hearing the commission agreed with Martin. Commissioner Craig Meis was at a loss for how Martin’s business qualified for a point on Code Enforcement’s scale.
“I can’t see that this one hits any of those criteria,” Meis said referring to the ranking system.
“These are the reasons we are going through a major code revision.”
Asked after the meeting about his comments, Meis said Code Enforcement should focus on health and safety issues and not getting involved in disputes between neighbors.
“That is why we came up with a prioritization system,” he said. “Make sure we are going after the worst offenders.”
Martin said Code Enforcement has been paying him visits for two years and told him he could either annex into the city of Grand Junction or apply for a conditional-use permit. The latter, however, would have triggered the annexation process because Martin is within the city’s sewerage boundary, he said. The options didn’t sit well with him.
“I will close the business,” if the county forces him to annex, Martin said.
There was also a question of where exactly Martin’s business falls into the county’s land-development code. There is no section governing repossession yards.
Donna Ross, director of Code Enforcement, said she could not find anything in the code that would allow a repossession business in a business-zoned area. But she could not find anything that banned it either.
Commissioner Janet Rowland agreed the case was not spelled out in code.
“It is not black and white,” she said. “I’m not sure where it fits (in the code).”
After the hearing Martin’s wife, Shelley Martin, said she was thrilled with the commission’s decision.
“It brought back my faith in local government,” she said.