Wallaceville community outraged at local business owner
WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- The small community of Wallaceville has a big problem on its hands and its stacked 20 feet high. "We've been trying to get something done for over 30 years," says resident Jeanette Caldwell.
Walburn Fields owns and operates a palette business, he also owns about 15 other properties throughout the community and when room runs out at his main facility, the left over palettes end up on his other properties. One of them is behind Caldwell's home.
"There's no respect for our community because of the palettes," says Caldwell. She moved back to Wallaceville in 2004 with the hopes of revitalizing it. She soon realized she was fighting an uphill battle. "Because the palettes have set a precedent. If we can take the palettes then what else," says Caldwell.
Neighbors have taken fields to court multiple times. Two years ago a judge ordered him to remove the palettes from behind Caldwell's property. However, that never happened.
"The property value around here has gone down so much. Nobody wants to move in," says Pastor Michael Montgomery. His church sits right next to one of Fields' properties. "This is not a trash zone, a dumping zone, and that's what he's made it," Montgomery says.
Channel 3 took the community's concerns to the Fields himself. "We is a business and all the time a business don't look beautiful," Fields says. Channel 3 asked him whether he'd consider building a warehouse or store the palettes away from the road where people couldn't see it.
"Well, that would be another thing and the thing of it is the ordinance out here doesn't require you to do that," says Fields.
The county ordinance does state the palettes can't be placed within the states right of way or within 35 feet of a standing structure. However, the road that runs through Wallaceville is a state highway, not a county road.
"We want him to be successful but not at the expense of the community," Montgomery says.
"It hurts my feelings a lot that I'm paying taxes and what do I get, a junk pile behind my house," says Caldwell.
County officials say the process has moved on to state court and Fields has requested a jury trial but they're waiting on an official date. In the meantime, residents have scheduled a meeting with the county's sole commissioner at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Shady Grove Baptist Church to voice their concerns.