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Fate of Lowville junkyard to be determined Thursday

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LOWVILLE — It’s down to the wire for a Lowville business owner whose license to operate a junkyard in Lewis County could be revoked Thursday night.

A public hearing will be held before the Lewis County Junkyard Review Board votes on the fate of Paul J. Kafline’s used auto parts business, but according to the junkyard inspector and secretary, William J. Houppert, this day has been years in the making.

“It’s been a long time since he was compliant,” Mr. Houppert said.

Originally authorized to operate a 16.4-acre junkyard, Mr. Kafline received his license in 1984, according to Mr. Houppert.

Without permission, the lot has slowly grown to cover approximately 28 acres, with about 2,800 vehicles, after the purchase of adjoining property.

That growth put Mr. Kafline in violation of county law, which requires a 100-foot setback from salvage vehicles to neighboring property lines.

“Originally, I talked to (county Attorney) Richard Graham and he said we could grant waivers for the expansion and the setbacks,” Mr. Houppert.

What could not be waived, however, was the part of the law that required screening, either with a fence or trees, between the junkyard and neighboring property.

“He still had to comply with screening,” Mr. Houppert said. “We were working with him. We gave him a deadline, but that came and went.”

As the screening issue lingered, a public hearing was held.

Property owners to the west side, which borders the rear of the property, did not agree with the waiver.

“They wanted him to meet both requirements,” Mr. Houppert said. This would require screening and a 100-foot setback.

“So there we were,” Mr. Houppert said. “There was no waiver, and then Mr. Graham said we can’t sign a waiver and we have to go back to the original license Mr. Kafline signed. It says 100 feet plus screening.”

Mr. Kafline was given a second extension, but according to Mr. Houppert, still did not have the property surveyed.

He was then cited with not meeting the screening requirements.

“That was a year and a half ago,” Mr. Houppert said. “The Watson judge has given him reprieve after reprieve.”

Mr. Kafline, until a few months ago, served for about 20 years as an adviser to the review board.

One outstanding issue is the approximately half-mile of property line at the rear of the property that meets neither setback nor screening requirements. Owners of that parcel are listed as Merrell Trust, according to Lewis County property records.

“A fence there will serve no purpose,” James Kafline said. “Those trees can serve as a screen, but they’re on Merrell’s property.”

He said the closest residence to that boundary line is approximately a mile away.

To address these issues, Mr. Kafline said he will be leasing 200 feet of property from the Merrell Trust. The setback then would be satisfied and the screening would be unnecessary.

The property line along the north side of the junkyard remains out of compliance, as well. Screening is necessary and requested from the neighbor.

Mr. Kafline said he hopes to remedy that issue by planting trees.

“At this point, we’re past trees,” Mr. Houppert said. “There needs to be a fence.”

The public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lewis County Courthouse, 7660 N. State St.

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