PREVIEW: Junkyard? You Be The Judge


It’s an unusual neighborhood surrounded by industrial land.

But people living in Norton Acres claim that one business right across the street from their homes isn’t zoned properly.

Norton Acres neighbors have been complaining about Insurance Auto Auction since it came in seven years ago. 

At the heart of this story is the definition of a “junkyard.” 

Neighbor: The business is 8-5, but the trucks come and go at all hours.
Angela Kennecke:  Bringing wrecked vehicles?
Neighbor: Wrecked vehicles

This neighbor moved across the street from Insurance Auto Auction three years ago.

Angela Kennecke: Should it be called a junkyard. 

Neighbor: Yes, it’s full of junked cars that aren’t drivable. 

This area is zoned “Light Industrial,” junkyards have to be in “General Industrial” zones. But that’s the sticking point: is a lot that stores and sells wrecked vehicles a junkyard or not?

Here’s what the Insurance Auto Auctions manager has to say:

Angela Kennecke: I’d like to ask you why you’re operating a junkyard in an area that’s not zoned for a junkyard?

Wade Persson, Insurance Auto Auctions Manager: Well it’s not a junkyard and I do have to decline.

The City tells us the zoning here is correct for the business.

“For our opinion, from our standpoint, that is not run as a junkyard,” Code Enforcement Manager Matt Tobias said.

But neighbors say that a dead rat in the city park right next to the auto salvage operation is just one indication that it is a junkyard

“It’s a problem for me to have rats in my neighborhood. To be honest with you there’s a park over there; a lot of kids who have tough lives probably. They come there to play, they don’t need to be around Norway rats, or whatever that rat was over there–they don’t need that,” Neighbor Bernie Schmidt said.

The City tells us it’s working with the business on a pest control plan.
But our investigation into the issue goes much deeper. 

Wednesday on KELOLAND News at 10, we look at a court ruling that decided the Insurance Auto Auctions is operating a junkyard and promises the business made to the City about how long it would keep wrecked vehicles on the property and whether or not the City is keeping track.

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