Neighbors are upset about the many abandoned trailers in the Oak Hill subdivision outside New Ellenton. (WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- Mark Pinkard shot video on his cellphone Monday afternoon as a trailer only a block from his house nearly burned to the ground.
"You got a trailer here that somebody lived in -- in an old abandoned lookin' trailer park," he says in the video. "Ain't no sense in people living like that. Needs to be cleaned up. I'm going to put this on Channel 12 please!"
On Wednesday, he gave News 12 a tour of his neighborhood that he says is falling apart. He pointed out the trailer destroyed by Monday's fire.
"If it wouldn't have been for the quick response of New Ellenton Fire Department and Silver Bluff Fire Department, that whole place would have been on fire," Pinkard said.
Now, the charred mobile home sits next to others that are also in shambles. Some have broken windows, others have trees blocking doorways, but all of them are angering Pinkard and other neighbors in the Oak Hill subdivision outside New Ellenton.
"You'd think war has done hit the place -- a bomb's done [blown] it up," Pinkard said.
In the video, he also points out the remnants of what once was a trailer. He says it was destroyed and salvaged for metal.
"Here you got one where they done tore down one trailer and just left the mess laying here," he says in the video.
In fact, neighbors say the trash pile has been here for more than a year.
Additionally, Pinkard says the subdivision is plagued with other lots of abandoned trailers, too, and he's concerned that they've spawned a now growing crime problem.
"We see fights, and we see people coming in and out, cars come in there and somebody will swap something over and move on down there to the next thing. They'll make a spin out of here. So, you know, obvious since, you know about what's going on over there," added neighbor Lenny Atkinson.
Atkinson lives across the street from another abandoned lot where trash has been piled up for months. He says it's gotten so bad that he's now considering moving away after practically living there all his life. He says what once was a family-friendly neighborhood is now an area where he fears to let his granddaughter outside.
"But if I go sell my property, I couldn't for it. People will see all the trash across the road, and they're going to say, 'Why do we want to live up in Oak Hill with this kind of trash?'" he said.
News 12 questioned the owner of the the lot near Pinkard's home. He admits that it looks bad, but he says he doesn't have the money to do anything about it. He says he wishes nearby neighbors would stop harassing him. He says one trailer is inhabited, but the rest are classified as non-livable, which means he doesn't have to pay taxes on them. He says he plans to demolish this trailer this weekend, but cleaning up, he says, is his last priority.
However, Aiken County Code Enforcement could soon make it a priority for him. An officer tells News 12 the owner's name is Robert Wood, and Wood has been written up with warnings two times in the past. He says the land was under a tax sale, which is why they haven't acted in the past year. Now that Wood has claimed ownership, the officer says they'll likely soon reopen the warning. Wood will likely be given 30 days to clean up the property. If he does not have the funds, they may take him in front of a magistrate judge. Wood could face fines of $1,092.50 and/or 30 days in jail for each charge.