A 19-acre illegal dump site that shocked county residents has been cleaned up. A crew removed more than 147,000 pounds of refuse from the Kennel Road site near Frankford.
According to Sussex officials, the $11,200 price tag could have been much higher if the county had not worked out an agreement with George Baldwin, the property owner's son.
Under the agreement, the county covered the $1,650 cost for 10 of 12 dumpsters while the son covered all other costs, including $6,250 for landfill disposal fees, $3,000 for equipment rental and $300 for labor.
“Without this agreement, this property probably would not be cleaned up today,” said Mike Costello, Sussex County's government affairs manager.
He said if the county had placed a lien on the property and cleaned it up using taxpayers' funds, not only would it have been more costly, but the county would have been one of several entities with liens on the property.
After investigations this spring by county constables and state officials, the property owner was ordered to clean up the property. Costello said further inspections into late spring and summer showed no work had taken place. It's then that county officials started negotiating with the property owner's son.
By the beginning of August, the parcel had been cleaned up, Costello said.
Costello said the property owner was aware illegal dumping was taking place on the parcel. “It's questionable if he had the ability to control it,” he said. “Relatives in other states are not associated with the property.”
In March, Delaware Natural Resources Police Environmental Crimes Unit arrested 44-year-old Danny L. Averitt of Frankford and Dagsboro resident Perry A. Townsend, 55, and charged them with illegal dumping. Both men were ordered to pay fines and placed on probation.
Sussex County's online tax map tool shows the Frankford property at 34084 Kennel Road not owned by Averitt, who was staying on the property and running an illegal dump, according to court records. George Baldwin Jr. and attorney Harold W. T. Purnell II co-trustees are listed as owners.
Records show Averitt told police he had been charging people, including Townsend and landscaping businesses, $10 to $75 to dump waste at the Frankford site on Kennel Road, just off Beaver Dam Road, for about four years.
Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, who was instrumental in drawing attention to the illegal dump site commended county staff for their prompt action. He also thanked state officials for taking action against the two men associated with the dumping.
He asked Costello if the county should get reimbursed for the $1,650 it spent as part of the clean-up effort.
“With the liens on the property, we would have to get in line,” he responded. “This was the quickest way to to remedy the problem.”