AR-News: Trapper using property as an illegal dumping ground

joe miele jmmiele at
Fri May 14 22:59:40 EDT 2004

Trappers have so much respect for the animals...

Stink hits many places before carcasses are cleared
Friday, May 14, 2004By Jim Harger
The Grand Rapids Press

Everyone agreed the putrid smell of rotting animals that wafted across MCI
Worldcom Inc.'s parking lot was a problem.

But for the past month, no one seemed to agree on who was responsible for
getting rid of the dead animals scattered on property upwind from MCI's
offices at 2855 Oak Industrial Drive NE.

The carcasses finally were removed under city order Thursday, but now it
appears there will be another stink over who will pay for the cleanup.

Most of the carcasses appear to be from wild animals -- beavers, raccoons,
foxes and a deer -- that were dumped onto the marshy edges of the property
last fall or winter. Most of the carcasses were skinned of their fur.

MCI's Facilities Manager Dave Grant said Wednesday workers began smelling
the carcasses when the weather warmed up last month. He called the Grand
Rapids Police Department to complain.

Since then, there has been a lot of bureaucratic paper shuffling,
buck-passing and investigation.

But the rotting carcasses remained until Thursday afternoon, when a
contractor hired by the city removed them.

"I had hoped, after my initial report to police, that it would have been
cleaned up," said Grant, adding the odors were sometimes evident inside the
MCI building.

Instead, the complaint ran through the state's Department of Natural
Resources, the city's Streets and Sanitation Department, the Kent County
Health Department and Animal Control Unit, the city's Environmental
Protection Services Department and the city's Housing Enforcement Division.

It was the Housing Enforcement Division, which also handles nuisance code
violations, that sent a clean-up notice to Bomarko Inc., the property owner,
last week.

Housing Inspection Supervisor John Soper said he hired a private contractor
to clean up the site Monday. He said the city will bill Bomarko for the
cleanup under the city's nuisance ordinance, which prohibits illegal dumping
of trash.

Bomarko President James Azzar said Thursday he won't pay for the cleanup. He
claimed his company never got the cleanup notice and said he was planning to
handle the problem himself.

"I never heard anything from the city," he said. "The city doesn't have to
tell me about it."

Azzar, who has had several run-ins with city officials over the condition of
other properties he owns, said he dealt with the problem himself last
spring, when he found more than 100 carcasses on the property. He buried
them himself using equipment from a private animal shelter he operates near
Lake Odessa.

"We were going to bring in a backhoe and take care of it," he said. "That's
what we did last year. I don't want a bunch of bodies laying back there,

Azzar said he suspects a rogue trapper has been using the property as an
illegal dumping ground for several years. Now that the winter is over, the
culprit probably is no longer trapping, he said.

Dave Rodgers, a DNR conservation officer who investigated the site, has
similar suspicions. He said he is hoping to identify the responsible person
by talking to local licensed trappers.

City Streets and Sanitation Director Pat Bush said his department looked
into the complaint and passed it along to Kent County's Health Department
and the DNR.

Though his work crews will pick up road kill, Bush said his department
doesn't have the authority to enter private property nor do workers have the
equipment to dispose of carcasses in such an advanced state of decay.

At the Kent County Environmental Health Section, Supervisor Kurt Overmyer
said his boss, who fielded the complaint, is out of town.

Kent County's Animal Control Unit looked into the situation and referred it
to the DNR to determine whether illegal trapping is involved, Overmyer said.
He said he also referred the matter to the city's Environmental Protection
Services Department.

Cortland Overmyer, the city's Environmental Protection Director, said he
regarded the carcasses as a case of illegal trash-dumping and referred it to
the city's Code Enforcement Division, which investigates illegal dumping

Said Soper, the city housing inspection supervisor who eventually ordered
the cleanup: "I think everybody thought everybody else was going to do it. I
suppose if they had contacted us first, we could have gotten it done

© 2004 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission
Copyright 2004 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved.

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