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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Public disapproval of Lewis County junkyard law prompts petition; removal of position unlikely


LOWVILLE — A petition seeking to eliminate Lewis County’s junkyard inspector, following public outcry over a junkyard’s impending closure, likely will gain little support from Lewis County legislators.

Signed by 1,200 residents, the petition has made the rounds since February when Paul J. Kafline’s used auto parts business received a junkyard license revocation for failing to comply with local law.

Todd H. Lyndaker, Belfort, presented the petition, which asks the board of legislators to eliminate the junkyard inspector position, held by William J. Houppert. The petitioners wish to transfer junkyard duties to law enforcement and Buildings and Codes.

The position’s axing “would save the taxpayers of Lewis County $28,000 a year,” according to the petition. That estimation may be overblown, as the position pays considerably less. Mr. Houppert makes $17,852. The junkyard budget is $27,592.

The petition states that the junkyard position “bypasses our judicial system by giving the Junkyard Inspector the power to shut down or close businesses without going to court.”

Legislator Bryan D. Moser, R-Kirschnerville, explained why that statement likewise is inaccurate. “The law just gives authority for the inspector to issue a citation,” he said. “The review board has the power to deny an application or deny renewals.”

In Mr. Kafline’s case, Mr. Houppert issued a citation. When Mr. Kafline did not rectify the matter, the review board denied his license renewal.

Because the citation was issued in the winter, the review board and Mr. Kafline’s legal counsel agreed to postpone the matter until the snow melted. Mr. Kafline now has until July to comply with the agreement.

The petition holds that the junkyard inspector is not a state-mandated position, and instead derives from the county’s own laws.

Lewis County instituted a junkyard law in 1988, creating the position of inspector. Mr. Houppert is the state’s only county junkyard inspector.

Legislators Tuesday night decided to cut costs by relocating the junkyard office to the Lowville Commons building. The move will save $200 a month.

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