McGrath granted 30 days to clean yard, reduce fine

CENTRAL POINT — Former Mayor Rusty McGrath's battle with the city over the stockpile of items on his property came to a temporary end Wednesday when a municipal court judge decided that both sides had some merit.

Judge Jim Mueller found McGrath guilty of accumulation of junk and holding an unauthorized yard sale, but also sided with the lifelong Central Point resident that the majority of his possessions are not a problem and assessed only a fraction of the suggested $500 in citations.

Mueller gave McGrath 30 days to communicate with Central Point community services Officer Ron Barnett regarding any remaining items on his property that need to be moved. If McGrath then returns to court with a satisfactory report from Barnett, he'll pay $50 per charge instead of the initial finding of $250 apiece.

McGrath said he felt the judge "listened to both sides" and that the case "ended up being kind of a push. They didn't win and I didn't win."

The citations were issued in November over the condition of McGrath's property on Freeman Road; he was cited for the accumulation of junk and for holding an unauthorized yard sale, due to the large number of vehicles posted for sale.

Mueller said in his ruling that the city's junk accumulation ordinance did not offer "a real terrific definition of junk" and that, according to the city yard sale ordinance, anyone with a "For Sale" sign in a car window is in violation and subject to a $250 fine.

"One man's junk is another man's artwork," Mueller said, adding, "frankly, I think Mr. McGrath has a right to have 90 percent of his stuff sitting there."

The charges were filed when Meadows Mobile Home Park resident Bob Warren complained to city code enforcement that McGrath's property, zoned commercial, had become an eyesore. Warren told Mueller he was "sick and tired" of McGrath "running a junk yard."

McGrath countered that Warren had been "trying to get me for 10 years" and that he'd only recently moved much of his belongings to the location after closing a machine shop in September.

In the charges against McGrath, Barnett said that the police department had received numerous complaints over the years regarding the property.

Over a half-dozen seniors from the Meadows Mobile Home Park shook their heads of groaned at the judge's final ruling.

"Basically it should've never been (in court) in the first place," McGrath said. "I feel like the judge was pretty open-minded about most of it. At least he got Mr. Warren off my butt."

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