Trash talking: Neighbors say GR backyard has turned into garbage dump

Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 18, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, but try telling that to life-long West side resident Doug Ericksen, who says his next door neighbor's yard looks more like a garbage dump.

Piles and bags of garbage are littered throughout the yard, and blowing into the alleyway behind the home right into Ericksen's yard, he told us.

“I pick up what comes into my (yard), but there’s such an abundance, and I don’t have the equipment to clean that up," he said.

“If you live there, you should take a certain amount of pride," Ericksen said. "It saddens me, because it just shows me that it’s either laziness or people just don’t care, and I don’t understand either of those things."

Ericksen said it's been a growing problem for months in a yard in the 800 block of McReynolds in the West Grand Neighborhood. The recent snow melt has again revealed the extent of the mess, he said.

The home is listed as a rental property. A man claiming to be one of the tenants came out of the home while FOX 17 was on scene and said it wasn't his trash.

"The people that lived downstairs just moved out and left all this stuff here," he said, adding he'd pass along the message to them about the trash.

When asked if he'd call them on the phone while FOX 17 was there, he refused and walked away.

FOX 17 contacted the landlord of the property, who said he'd recently evicted the tenants living on the lower level of that home. He also said he had already sent someone out to the property to clean up the trash earlier in the week, was unaware it was still a problem in the yard, and promised he would be sending someone out again in the coming days to clean it up.

A representative with Grand Rapids' code compliance office said the city had received several complaints for the address in question within the past 24 hours, including one from the West Grand Neighborhood Association.

City policy allows seven days for a property owner to respond to a code violation complaint before further action is taken.

Ericksen said he hopes the problem is taken care of soon because it reflects poorly on the entire neighborhood.

“It’s been kind of known as a rougher neighborhood for people who may not care, but some of us who’ve lived here our whole lives, we do care," he said. "We live here, and we don’t want to live in trash."

Grand Rapids residents can submit a code violation complaint through the city's online citizen access portal or through the GR City 311 service. Residents can also call the Code Compliance Office directly at (616) 456-3053.