By ADAM WRIGHT
RESIDENTS of Sanctuary Point were shocked to see a council clean-up crew removing piles of accumulated items from property this week.
Shoalhaven City Council has taken action against a resident who had accumulated a yard full of items.
About seven truck loads of material was removed from the rear of the Frederick Street property on Monday.
The trucks returned on Tuesday to clear items from the front yard.
Residents in the area had complained to council over a number of years about the accumulated piles of items.
They said the property was an eyesore and health and safety risk.
However, the occupant, known only as Bob, said he was disappointed the complaining neighbours did not come to him and talk about how they thought it was "getting out of hand".
“I’ve lived here for about 15 years and it’s just too easy to pick up this and that over time,” he said.
“Next thing you know you’ve got two acres of stuff,” he said.
“The worst part is the complainers aren’t even my neighbours. The neighbours on both sides were as good as gold.
“Even the council rangers were fine. They said as long as the cars I had were registered, they were happy.”
Bob said he was a great believer in the saying "each to their own".
“It’s my land and my driveway. Surely to Christ I can park my trailers and cars and stuff on my own land.
“But fair enough. It got out of hand,” he said.
Bob had what appeared to be hundreds of lawnmower parts in his yard. He said they were left over from a time when he used to fix up and sell them.
“That was a good little sideline before Bunnings started selling cheap Chinese mowers. That ruined it.”
When asked how he felt about council taking his things, he shrugged and said, "These things happen."
Sanctuary Point resident Les Boucher had complained to council about the property for a number of years.
He said for a long time council wouldn’t do anything about it.
“I told them the guy probably needed help cleaning up,” he said.
“I was talking to firefighters recently about it. They told me if there was a fire at the house they would be worried about the toxic fumes from the all the plastic and rubber on the site.
“I was cleaning out a house myself recently and found a couple of things I thought people might like to have.
“I put them on the verge with a free sign and called council to come and do a pick up. I thought I’d use a tip voucher.
“In the time between me phoning council and them coming out I had a ranger on my door asking why I had left the stuff in the street.”
Sanctuary Point resident Herman Linnenbank, who has lived in the area for 25 years, had been complaining about the situation for three years.
“It’s about time it was cleaned up. I had rats in my roof and they cost me $150 after eating through a cable,” Mr Linnenbank said.
In February, council's Environment Health Unit manager Shane Pickering said council had undergone a lengthy process to allow the owners of the property to take action themselves.
“This issue has been a little sensitive and we are currently determining the situation, having gone through all legal processes.
“This property was brought to our attention some time ago but the delay is basically due to council trying to avoid going to court and we’ve been trying to work with the owner.”
Mr Pickering said hoarding issues did not come up often and council took every precaution to help frustrated residents while trying to help the offenders with their problems.
“The reason we try to get the property owners to do the clean-up themselves is because these collecting habits are often behavioural problems – we can go in and clean up the mess but that doesn’t necessarily mean you get rid of the problem and it would most likely recur,” he said.