Neighbors around the notorious Shingle Mountain site in southern Dallas complain code enforcement, which they sought for years to protect them, has turned on them instead.
The giant shingle pile at the Blue Star Recycling Company on South Central Expressway lasted for nearly 3 years until the city finally got rid of it.
Through a lawsuit against the company, the city of Dallas acquired most of the land in June and is considering a park for the site.
In April the city announced a new approach to code enforcement that would refocus manpower in southern Dallas areas where there are more problems.
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An environmentalist who sided with the neighbors against the shingle pile is on their side again.
“Instead of prioritizing people's health and safety, they're prioritizing these petty, minor issues,” said Evelyn Mayo with Downwinders at Risk.
The neighbor closest to the shingle pile, Marsha Jackson, said she recently shared complaints from neighbors with code enforcement people about problems in the area. But she and other neighbors have now received complaints from inspectors directed at them about things like the placement of their trash bins.
Wednesday an animal services notice was left on Jackson’s door about a loose dog that damaged her plants that was seen on her property.
“We are supposed to be working together to clean up some of these issues. We’ve been harmed down here. But you come around messing with us? Just like that note on my door. You all got my telephone number. Call me. That dog is everywhere. That’s the neighborhood dog. I have a dog. My dog is in the house,” Jackson said.
The neighborhood is called Floral Farms because of nurseries that have been there for a century.
Nurseryman Jonathan Soukup said he complained to the city when work began to improperly raise and clear a neighboring property that could cause runoff to his greenhouses.
“We started asking questions in March. ‘Why is all this gravel being stored over here? What’s going on over here? Basically, we get no response,” Soukup said. “Our greenhouses have been here 90 something years. I can't just pick up my greenhouses and raise my grade 3 or 4 feet with everyone else.”
On a mostly residential side street, resident Genaro Viniegra said he has complained about fiberglass swimming pools being stored on one property.
He said he gets a run-around from the city when he complains about heavy truck traffic that rolls right past a sign that says trucks are not allowed.
“They always refer me to DPD or transportation which I did. And they referred it back to code,” Viniegra said. “It seems to me they are targeting the residents instead of the illegal land use and businesses around our property.”
After their long and vocal fight about Shingle Mountain, Jackson said she believes the city of Dallas is trying to push out residents from the industrial and commercial area near the Dallas McCommas Bluff landfill.
“My voice is not going to be quiet. It sounds like that’s what you’re trying to do. But yea, it really pisses me off about this,” Jackson said.
The residents complain that code enforcement varies from one officer to the next.
“You need consistency with code officers. You need clear priorities and they need to have all the right information about what the violation is and how it’s impacting people’s lives. And that should be the starting point on enforcement,” Mayo said. “This is just adding insult to injury for a neighborhood that went through every correct procedure for months and shingle mountain still happened.”
The city of Dallas responded Wednesday evening to a Wednesday morning request for comment saying officials had been busy during the day with a code enforcement hiring event. The city provided a statement:
“Code Compliance Services (CCS) has been doing sweeps in all parts of the city. These sweeps include visiting neighborhoods where code officers educate and inform residents of possible code violations, using courtesy notices. CSS' goal is to be more comprehensive and provide education to residents so that they are aware of the code prior to needing to issue any citation. Courtesy notices are not tied to a fine and are not citations or notices of violations,” the statement said.