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Frustrated with lack of zoning laws, neighbors of Lincoln Co. garbage business don’t know where to turn

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MEEKER, Okla. - Jim Brown bought his home in rural southwestern Lincoln County, ten miles west of Meeker, about seven years ago.

"I bought it for $17,000 -- when the market crashed -- and I've put about $100,000 in it," said Brown, a short-haul truck driver. "I'm just looking at the equity. That I put in to it and work hard every day. Seems like it's going nowhere."

Nowhere, Brown says, because his property value is being driven down by what's surrounding him and other property owners on East Robin Hood Lane.

“They tell me that the land and the house is worthless," said Brown after contacting NewsChannel 4.

Hundreds of trash cans fill a property to the north of Brown's home, along with garbage trucks and roll off dumpsters owned by Eastside Waste Systems; some dumpsters stored across the street from Brown's home are still filled with trash.

Neighbors call it an eyesore and a safety hazard. But there's not much they -- or the county -- can do.

“I feel for them, I do," said Lee Doolen, the county commissioner for district three, which covers Brown's neighborhood. "And if I was living there I would have a problem with it. But, these are the rules that we live under and my office follows the law.”

Or that there are no laws -- zoning regulations -- that prohibit or regulate what a person does or doesn't do with their property.

"In Lincoln County, we're mostly all agriculture. So there's really no reason for zoning at this time," said Doolen.

But it's not to say it hasn't been tried before, Doolen said. But anytime it has been brought up, it's been met with fierce resistance.

“It’s been brought up a few times in the past and every time it is, people come out in droves against zoning," Doolen said.

Some who live on the street, including Brown, say the waste company's expanding presence and land purchases is driving their property values down. County land records show the family that runs the business owns seven parcels of land in the Sherwood Forest subdivision.

NewsChannel 4 reached out to the company and have not yet heard back. But NewsChannel 4 did speak with one of the family members who started the business in 2004, who said: "As far as property values are concerned, we were here first.  I really doubt if we're going to be too concerned about people complaining."

Some want to move, but feel forced to stay because they won't get a fair deal on the real estate market. Brown was hoping to use the equity he built on his house to put his now 7-year-old son through college some day.

Now, he feels he's fighting a losing battle.

"I've been working on this place, trying to improve it," Brown said, "and trying to help the neighborhood and it's going downhill."