WEST WYOMING – Borough officials are attempting to shut down an Apollo Drive hauling company, according to court papers filed Tuesday, citing residents’ complaints and ordinance violations.
The borough, through its solicitor, Linell Lukesh, of Philadelphia, filed a request in Luzerne County Court for a special injunction against Russell’s Hauling Co., owned by borough resident Joseph Russell. The petition seeks to order a “cease and desist” of the company’s operations until a county zoning hearing is addressed, because neighbors who live nearby say they are unable to enjoy their properties.
Between April 2012 and the present, the court filing states, nearby property owners have experienced “detrimental living conditions” due to noise, smells, smoke and other violations coming from Russell’s Hauling Co.
Russell said Tuesday he has done nothing wrong and has not received violations from the state Department of Environmental Protection or any similar agency.
Russell said his business, which opened in February 2012, employs five people, and the metal-recycling business supports their families and his own. “Sometimes I’m at home with my wife watching TV, and (the borough is) calling with noise complaints and other random phone calls against me. It’s getting ridiculous,” he said.
Russell said he is only trying to run a business and he’ll “fight for what is right.”
Russell noted he has hired attorneys to represent him. “There’s been complaint after complaint, and I don’t see how they can do that.”
In September 2012, Russell’s Hauling applied to the county Zoning Hearing Board for a special exception to operate a multi-use recycling and junkyard at the 12 Apollo Drive business. That request was later denied, and Russell appealed that decision. Its appeal is still pending.
The borough says Russell’s Hauling has been cited at the district judge level and fined up to $1,000, according to the filing.
Residents Charles Umphred and Cynthia Kennelly, of Ferretti Drive, as well as other residents on that street, are unable to enjoy their properties, according to the filing. “If Russell’s Hauling continues to operate, it will cause immediate and irreparable harm to the residents on Ferretti Drive and to the local police force, as well as the code enforcement officer,” the filing states.
The borough seeks to have business stopped at Russell’s Hauling until the borough’s appeal is heard by a county judge.
The filing states previous businesses operated at the Apollo Drive building, owned by John Tafani, including a cabinet-making business that was run complaint-free.
Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb scheduled a hearing on the borough’s request for Aug. 10.