Nasty Neighbors:Could Cities Be Breaking Their Own Rules

Don Beck doesn't have a shortage of old cars. "This is my mother's '75 Thunderbird which she brought brand new. It's got 22,000 miles on it. Put a hot battery on it, crank it, run it," Beck says with pride.

Yet it's because of people like Beck that city's have nuisance ordinances. His neighbors may find his prize possessions eyesores. "What's one woman's trash is another woman's treasure and people who know cars know this is a collector's item," responds Beck.

But, under the city's junk car ordinance, Beck is required to put the cars behind a privacy fence. His existing chain link fence wasn't good enough. He complied, but not without an attitude. "They [the City of Nacogdoches] have two sets of rules. One for me and one for them," claims Beck.

To prove his point, Beck brought us to the city's old treatment plant on MLK Drive. Behind a chain link fence, not a privacy fence. Beck found a city owned junker. Beck points out that, "They are even so proud of this they left their symbol on it--City of Nacogdoches. Fine vehicle."

We shared the discovery with Environmental Health Manager Tommy Wheeler. "We want to thank Don for pointing this out to us. [The truck is]Somewhat out of sight, but it is visible and we need to remove it."

Beck says the same should go for fallen in buildings found on the same property. Beck exclaims, "See all that? If that was mine they would have had me in court a month ago."

Court is no strange place for Beck. He's frequently been ordered to demolish rental property and abandoned buildings.

At one site on North Street Beck was told to haul off 60 junk cars and car motors as well as 100's of car parts and used tires. They belonged to his tenant who ran a car repair business. Beck agreed they were unsightly, but he had an explanation. "I'm not arguing that they weren't an eyesore. I thought so too, but it was the nature of his business."

It's the city's business to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents. So why do cesspools  filled with stagnant water remain open? Beck found them right next to the old truck and buildings at the old treatment plant. "Who does it belong to? The City of Nacogdoches, but they can get away with it," said Beck.

Wheeler regrets the city's negligence. After all, he's the founder of a state recognized Clean Sweep Program. The successful effort teams up residents and city crews to tackle nasty environments. City citations are not issued.

Wheeler explained, "It's neighborhood enhancement is what it is. To address all code issues, violations, not only private, but also city."

Including the city's redevelopment efforts on old industrial property at East Main. All year the city will be cleaning up the environmentally hazardous area for a new park. Something good for Nacogdoches, but Beck points out, "I had the same fence they had, but that wasn't good enough that was security. They wanted privacy, so couldn't see that eyesore. Here's your eyesore."

Beck may never fully be on board with the city. "How does it make me feel? Bad as hell man. That's right, same rule should apply to them," voiced Beck.

Wheeler reminds everyone that, "We have to work as a together as a team. Any time we appreciate the eyes and ears of the citizens that help us with locating areas that we need to improve on too."

Wheeler made sure that the old truck was removed. And there are plans to take away the old buildings. He just hopes Beck will do the same with even more old cars at property he owns on South Street.