Persistent junk accumulations at two adjacent northwest Oklahoma City homes are causing increasing tensions between the owner and his neighbors.
Public records show that neighbors have been calling the City of Oklahoma City Action Center about 2436 NW 42nd St. since 2011 and 2440 NW 42nd St. next door since 2012.
There have been 204 calls on the 2436 address and 22 on the 2440 address. Not all of the calls for service resulted in a city action on a violation, however.
“Well, this is outrageous,” said Mayor Mick Cornett after seeing photos and hearing about the two properties.
Oklahoma County Assessor records show both properties belong to Benjamin Eades.
When Free Press went to the addresses later in the afternoon Eades could not be contacted.
However, a woman who identified herself as Eades’ wife blamed the problems on her husband not having “organizational skills.”
Tuesday the City Council heard from Tom Levescy, one of those neighbors who lives in the next block from the two properties.
He pleaded with the council to do something more than just giving repeated citations to the owner of the properties.
“I would ask the council how long is the City of Oklahoma City going to let this issue metastasize?” Levescy asked during public comments at the end of the council meeting.
He said that he wants to respect property rights including those of the owner of the two problem properties.
But, he argued that there are other property rights to be taken into account as well.
“What about the rights of surrounding families?” Levescy said. “The right to not having their home values diminished – the right to not be confronted today with blight on the neighborhood in which they live and raise their children.”
Charles Locke, city code enforcement manager, reported that they have been responding to calls for them to check on the property and have issued citations to the owner over the years.
He reported the city has gone in and cleaned up the properties on several occasions when they could not get the owner to take care of it and there are liens against the property for the cost of doing so.
“Our limitations are that when we clean it up, it’s no time until he’s got it back like this,” Locke said as the council members viewed recent photos of the properties.
Locke reported that they believe the owner is actually conducting a salvage-type business from the addresses.
“Problem is, we can’t prove this is a business because we don’t have access to the financial end of it,” said Locke.
Cindy Richard, deputy municipal counselor for the city, cautioned that she was not familiar with the case until earlier in week and would have to study the possibilities of taking the matter to district court.
A woman who identified herself as the common-law wife of Benjamin Eades drove up when Free Press was at the addresses later in the day, and agreed to an interview through her car window. She requested not to be photographed.
She identified herself as Cathy Buchanan. She said she lived with Eades in the 2436 address and his mother lived in the 2440 address.
“My husband is a contractor,” said Buchanan. “He paints apartments.”
She said that he works long hours during the day and then gets distracted when he starts working on their projects when he comes home.
“He’s an adult man who’s got ADHD, undiagnosed and unmedicated,” she said.
Originally denying they engage in any kind of salvage work, she went on to admit that she does some salvaging for money.
“When big trash is in this neighborhood, I’ll pick up metal because that’s how I get my cigarettes, or I get my gas money,” Buchanan said. “Other than that, I don’t drive all over the city picking up junk.”
She said that Eades “doesn’t have organizational skills,” but “has a heart of gold.”
“Benny would do anything for anyone if they asked,” Buchanan said.
She said that she had been trying to help her husband keep the property picked up, but it was sometimes too much for her to handle by herself.
“I pawned my ruby slippers so I can’t just click my heals and make it happen overnight,” Buchanan said.