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Lewis County public hearing notice botched; Kafline’s gets small reprieve

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LOWVILLE — After attracting a standing-room-only crowd Thursday night for a public hearing to decide the fate of Paul J. Kafline’s used auto parts business, it was discovered the hearing could not be held because of an error in a legal notice for the meeting.

Instead, Lewis County Junkyard Review Board Chairman John G. Jones apologized for the error and called for an executive session to discuss possible legal negotiations concerning the outstanding violations at Mr. Kafline’s Snell Road junkyard that could cause his junkyard license to be revoked.

The crowd waited for approximately 30 minutes until the board, County Attorney Richard J. Graham and five legislators returned from Mr. Graham’s office.

Upon their return, Mr. Graham said a “number of things have transpired” since the board originally planned the meeting.

He outlined four original offenses, three of which appear to be solved.

First, property owners to the rear of Mr. Kafline’s property have agreed to lease a portion of land, which will make the current setback and screening deficiencies no longer an issue.

Second, a copy of the deed for land Mr. Kafline purchased on the southern side of his property has been delivered to the board, resolving issues along that line.

A third issue to be addressed is the lack of screening along the bend on Snell Road, where junk vehicles can be seen from the roadway. Mr. Graham said Mr. Kafline had indicated a willingness to correct that issue.

A final issue, a lack of fencing along the northern boundary, appears to have been rectified at the meeting as a document from one of the neighbors was passed to Mr. Graham during the meeting.

A second neighbor along that border was present and addressed the board. Though the board could not formally hold a public hearing, it could take comment at its discretion.

“I’m a neighbor,” Rebecca Evans said. “If I don’t have a problem, why should anyone else?”

Former board member Brian W. Smith addressed the board, blaming it and former boards for allowing the matter to continue for so long.

“Paul didn’t go from 150 cars to 2,000 overnight. The board approved his license every year. Paul’s got some blame here, but the County of Lewis has blame also,” he said.

That problem, he said, took 15 to 20 years to create. “You’re trying to make him fix it in two years,” he said, prompting applause from the crowd.

Mr. Graham advised those in attendance that the board would finalize a document to allow Mr. Kafline to resolve his deficiencies to become compliant.

“It will contain hard and fast deadlines” he said.

If those deadlines can be met, Mr. Kafline will retain his license.

However, if he fails to meet the deadlines, the board will schedule another public hearing.

At that point, Mr. Graham said, “If not complete, there will be immediate revocation without further discussion.”

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