A Hummel Report Investigation
For more than two decades state and local officials have tried to get a local junkyard owner clean up some of his 130 acres in West Greenwich, saying it has infringed on other owners’ property and has made a right-of-way impassible for emergency vehicles. Despite orders, consent decrees and a lawsuit, the property remains largely unchanged - and one of the largest junkyards in Rhode Island. This week a top state official tells Jim Hummel: that’s about to change.
There is no sign for those driving by, no indication there is a business just behind the tree line off Weaver Hill Road in West Greenwich.
But anybody who has lived in town for any length of time knows this is the place to go if they need a hard-to-get part for their car truck. Chances are they could find it somewhere on the more than 130 acres owned by Norman ``Junior’’ Carpenter.
Breene: We used to half jokingly say that half the town didn’t like it, and the other half of the town went there Saturday to get parts.’’
West Greenwich Town Administrator Kevin Breene has known Carpenter for more than 50 years - and has watched this property, bordering Route 95, grow into something that has been the source of town and state concern and an attempted intervention for more than two decades. More recently Carpenter found himself the target of a lawsuit by an adjacent property owner, who says it’s gotten so out of control that not only has the junk ruined his own property values, but it poses a safety hazard if fire or rescue crews ever tried to make it up this access road.
Assalone: ``At one point you could risk your life coming up here because you couldn’t get through the road, there was all trash and glass all over the road.’’
John Assalone owns land that borders Carpenter’s property - he bought some of it before the junkyard expanded. Assalone also sold some lots to Carpenter near the entrance to the business.
Assalone: ``We had the property here before there was a junkyard, he has no right, even in the area where we are right now, he has no right to junk any of this area. This area has nothing to do with a licensed junkyard - this is just junk strewn throughout the forest. It just expanded beyond anybody’s imagination, destroyed the value of our family property, destroyed the value of just having good land that people could roam. It’s one of the few places you can come up with a dirt bike if you want. You can take hike and what you see is disgusting trash. Nobody dislikes Mr. Carpenter, okay, but it was wrong what he did, so clean it up. And he always told me he would clean it up, he would clean it up, and it never happened.’’