The town of Rome and Larry and Janet DiPietro, the owners of an unlicensed junkyard and automobile graveyard, have settled a two-year-old dispute.

The town of Rome and Larry and Janet DiPietro, the owners of an unlicensed junkyard and automobile graveyard, have settled a two-year-old dispute. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

ROME — A two-year-old dispute between the town and the owners of an unlicensed junkyard and automobile graveyard has been settled with both parties signing a three-part agreement on Sept. 6 that requires the owners to clean up the site and pay the town’s attorney fees or face civil penalties.

The dispute began when the Board of Selectmen denied Larry and Janet DiPietro’s request to renew their junkyard permit in October 2017. They were given 180 days to cease operation and remove all offending materials from their property at 602 Augusta Road in Rome.

According to court records, the request was also denied because the DiPietros failed to screen the junkyard from ordinary view, to handle fluids properly to prevent leakage or water contamination, to maintain a log of all motor vehicles handled, and to demonstrate that the junkyard is part of a viable business entity.

When the DiPietros failed to abide by the 180-day order to clean up the junkyard, Rome’s code enforcement officer, Andrew Marble, issued a notice of violation and a suit was filed against the DiPietros on June 27, 2018.

As of July 2018, the DiPietros had licenses from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles for more than 1,000 vehicles on their property with at least 125 being unregistered or uninspected.

According to court records, the DiPietros had argued that they didn’t need a license from the town because they had a recycler’s license issued by the secretary of state.

However, District Court Judge Valerie Stanfill issued a summary judgment in the town’s favor in January which stated that the court disagreed with the DiPietros’ claim they did not need a town permit.

Stanfill also upheld the process by which the town notified the DiPietros of the violations and served them with the paperwork. Stanfill wrote that because the DiPietros did not appeal the notice of violation they received from the town, it became binding and final.

The case was scheduled to go to court in both February and May of 2019 but was delayed by two separate motions for continuation filed by the DiPietros and granted by the court. A third trial date was set for Sept. 10, but the settlement was reached on Sept. 6 without a trial.

The agreement between the DiPietros and the town of Rome details a three-part plan that addresses the clean up and reseeding of the property as well as the reimbursement of attorney fees.

According to part one of the settlement, beginning on Sept. 1, the DiPietros must remove at least 200 tires per calendar month from the property until all tires are removed. On the second Monday of each month, the DiPietros must produce receipts for the town’s code enforcement officer that indicate the number of tires that were received by their agents or contractors.

Part two states that beginning on Sept. 1, the DiPietros must remove at least 120,000 pounds of scrap metal or unregistered vehicles per calendar month from the property until all are removed. They will also have to provide receipts for the removals to the code enforcement officer.

Part three states that the remaining loose items in the “recycle area” of the property must be removed and properly disposed of no later than June 30, 2020. The DiPietros must then put hay and seed the areas where items were removed no later than July 31, 2020.

If the DiPietros complete all three parts of the settlement plan by the deadlines set forth and to the reasonable satisfaction of the code enforcement officer, the civil penalty of $20,000 will be permanently suspended.

The settlement also states that the DiPietros must pay the town’s attorney fees, which amounted to $20,033, beginning in September 2020 in $175 monthly installments until all fees are paid off.

If the DiPietros fail or refuse to comply with the terms of the settlement, they will be found in violation of the consent order signed on Sept. 6 and will be liable to pay the suspended $20,000 civil penalty as well as an additional $100 per day for each day the violation continues.


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