Citation for infamous junk pile in court

The county is seeking to have Alton LaVerne Filan and his mother, Doris, clean up the line of items just outside Waitsburg.

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A view of the Filan property looking east. Alton LaVerne Filan, who lives on the property, is contesting a citation issued by Walla Walla County officials over the collection of materials on the land.

WALLA WALLA -- A man cited for having a massive junk pile on property just outside of Waitsburg has filed an appeal in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

The appeal by Alton LaVerne Filan was filed after Walla Walla District Court Judge John Knowlton found in November that Filan had violated a county ordinance pertaining to "debris and excessive vegetation." The citation carries a $75 fine.

Filan lives on the property located on U.S. Highway 12 near the western Waitsburg city limits. The land is owned by Filan's mother, Doris Filan of Walla Walla, who was also issued a citation on the same charge.

A hearing on Doris Filan's citation was held in District Court in October and the court found the infraction had been committed, said Jesse Nolte, Walla Walla County deputy prosecuting attorney. That citation also carries a $75 fine.

Nolte said the county code allows a ticket to be issued for each day a violation exists. The fine for the first offense is $75 and $250 for each subsequent violation. Nolte said only one ticket has been issued to each of the Filans so far.

The citations were issued in August of last year, but the history of the junk and debris stretches back decades.

According to a 2010 report compiled by what was then the Walla Walla County Community Development Department, Filan's father, Alton Filan, "began accumulating junk and debris" on the property several decades ago. As of October 2009, "a local recycling company estimated there is approximately 600 to 800 tons of junk and debris on the property," the report states.

Alton Filan died in 1990.

In September 2008 a complaint was filed with the county Community Development Department about the piles of junk on Filan's property. Mary Ann Hubbard, who was the county code compliance officer at that time, visited the property and notified Alton LaVerne Filan that the piles of material on the land were in violation of the county ordinance.

On Tuesday, Filan said that county officials claimed they were going to work with him on removing the material, but they haven't done so. "Then the next thing I find out, they were filing charges," he said.

Filan said he has removed "gobs of stuff" from his property, but in documents filed in District Court, Hubbard and Tom Glover, who was then department director, said they could not verify those claims and the material on Filan's property did not appear in any way diminished or reduced.

Filan said he and his late father have been "collecting stuff since the first part of the '80s." Some of it is farm equipment and other is material they have used to build bridges for people. He said he's received conflicting information about what is allowed to be stored on his land and what is not, adding to the confusion.

"They told me I had to get rid of the farm equipment, and now that's allowed," he said.

The material laid out in a line stretching away from the house on the property is covering an old airstrip on the land, he said. The materials were not put there to cover up a water line that was the subject of a dispute between his father and the city of Waitsburg in the early 1980s.

"I've heard that, but the water line is over by the foot of the hill," he said.

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