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Town begins clean up of Route 11 property

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Town of Watertown Code Enforcement Officer Jon L. Grant had a contractor out early Monday to remove the remaining mess from a couple’s Route 11 property.

The Town Council on Thursday night had refused to give Kenneth G. Drew Sr., 83, and his wife, Sheila A., 66, an extension until the end of September to clean up their property at 17201 Route 11. Instead, council members instructed Mr. Grant to proceed with a town-hired contractor to finish the job Monday.

The work was delayed a couple of hours while Mr. Grant was required to provide the proper court documentation from an August settlement agreement approved by state Supreme Court Judge Hugh A Gilbert. A Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy told the town official that a copy of the court order was needed before a four-man crew could begin.

“I did 90 percent of the work,” said Kenneth G. Drew Jr., a son who came up from Alabama to oversee work started by a contractor he hired last week.

Over three days, he said, a backhoe, frames from several trailers and other debris were removed. But that left more work to be done Monday.

On Monday morning, the town and the Drew family disagreed over putting a cement mixer, lawn mower and tractor in the front yard with a for-sale sign on them. But, in the end, the son had them removed from the property Monday morning. The family also will remove a broken pool from the 1-acre property.

In a June 27 letter, Mr. Grant notified the couple that a private contractor, North Country Paving, would be at the property at 8 a.m. Monday to finish the job.

Matthew F. Bondellio, owner of the local company, used a backhoe to put debris, planks of wood, scrap metal and other items in an awaiting dump truck before they were hauled away.

When asked how long it would take to get rid of the remaining items, Mr. Bondellio responded, “No clue. I don’t know.”

The town will charge the family the amount it pays North Country Paving for the work, Mr. Grant said.

Last week, the family claimed the town has been harassing the couple for years. They maintain they’ve already removed much of the construction debris, vehicles and trash. Kenneth Drew Jr. also said his father, a military veteran, has been ill after suffering a stroke last year that nearly killed him.

But on Monday, Mr. Grant said the town has been trying for years, in and out of court, to get the property cleaned up. He said that at one time a dozen abandoned vehicles dotted the backyard.

Last August, the town ended its state Supreme Court lawsuit over alleged code violations after the Drews agreed to clean up the property, where they have lived for more than 40 years and had operated a home improvement company, Drewco.

The town filed action in April, 2011, in an attempt to get the Drews to remove junk, including unregistered vehicles and car parts and a mobile home, from their grounds.

In 2007, they were fined $500 each for violating town codes for junk cars and trash, but the town agreed they wouldn’t have to pay it if they made progress on removing the vehicles and construction material. In August, 2010, however, the Drews were cited with more than 39 violations after code enforcement officers allegedly saw trash, junk vehicles and construction debris still on the property.


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