Business ordered to halt scrap activity

The owner of a West Wilson Street property, the location of recent complaints by Councilman Clyde Brown, has been ordered to stop all activity related to auto wrecking, scrap or a junk yard.

City Planning & Zoning Officer Patrick Morrissey sent the cease and desist letter dated April 22 to Bob Courtney of Courtney Enterprises, doing business as Downtown Metals & Recycling, of 423 W. Pershing St., for parcels on West Wilson Street where the former Pittsburg Foundry was located.

The letter referred to another letter dated Nov. 22, 2013 which notified Courtney about two ordinances passed by Salem City Council prohibiting auto wrecking, scrap or junk yard activity in M-1 Light Industrial Zone Districts or M-2 Heavy Industrial Zone Districts. The earlier letter explained that the property on West Wilson Street was in an M-2 Heavy Industrial Zone District and a scrap/junk yard type operation would not be permitted there.

The ordinances passed by council on Sept. 17, 2013 took effect on Oct. 17, 2013.

The new letter referred to the fact that he was notified in the earlier letter that auto wrecking, scrap or junk yard activity was not permitted on the West Wilson Street parcels.

“Recently, photographic evidence has revealed that you have ignored this warning because this property is being used for auto wrecking and as a scrap or junk yard,” Morrissey said in the April 22 letter.

In an email sent to Morrissey on April 24, Courtney acknowledged receiving the letter but wrote that he wasn’t sure “what it means what property it pertains to or where we are at in regards to operating. I have contacted my attorney and I guess we will go from there.”

Morrissey sent Courtney an email in response noting that the letter referred to the West Wilson Street property he acquired in 2013. The email also referred him to

the Nov. 22, 2013 letter which Morrissey told him “gave you a clear understanding of the property (Old Pittsburg Foundry) in question. I am confident that you know exactly what property my letter ‘pertains to.’”

On Friday, Morrissey said he’ll begin doing random checks of the property to see if the owner is complying with the order.

Brown raised the issue about the property last month in several emails to other officials regarding the alleged violation to the amendments for what’s permitted in an M-2 zoning district. He wanted the law director to file an injunction.

In the past, he’s been very vocal in his opinion against the metals and recycling business on West Pershing Street which he said had been violating the rules.

Brown was the lone dissenter when council voted to prohibit scrap yards, auto wrecking and junk yards in M-1 and M-2 zoning districts. He voted against the amendments, saying the city needed to just enforce the rules already on the books.