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Trash or treasure?

Denver Blaylock sees nothing wrong with his junkyard that straddles U.S. 276 in the Cruso area of Haywood County.

“What’s that saying, something about ‘one man’s treasure’? Well, that’s what this is,” Blaylock said.

But to others, the cars are simply heaps of metal junk, a ghastly eyesore. Some call it a health hazard and accuse the junkyard of harboring varmints in old car upholstery or providing a mosquito breeding ground in water filled tires. Others call it dangerous, fearing children could wander in and get trapped in a car trunk.

But Blaylock, 59, describes it as his livelihood. Blaylock said the county commissioners caved to newcomers when they passed the junk car ordinance several years ago that requires junkyards to be fenced and screened. Blaylock said the ordinance discriminates against him as a junkyard owner.

“Seeing these big Florida homes on the side of the mountain, it doesn’t look any worse than that,” Blaylock said of his junkyard.

Ricky Stokely, a customer at the junkyard, agrees.

“When I look around and see all these roads and houses carving up the mountains, that looks a whole lot worse to me,” Stokely said.

After Blaylock failed to meet deadlines to comply with the ordinance numerous times over the past seven years, the county took charge last month and hired someone to plant trees and build some fences with the intention of billing Blaylock for the work.

“I think it is awful they can come in and tell you what they are going to do and you are going to pay for,” said Blaylock’s brother, Phillip.

When the county officials showed up in Blaylock’s yard with estimates of what it would cost, Blaylock said he told the county not to bother.

“I told them I was going out of business, that I couldn’t afford it,” Blaylock said. “I told him ‘you do this, it’s out of your pocket not mine.’ They said no, it’s too late. They wouldn’t give me a second chance.”

Blaylock has been sending good parts cars to the crusher recently, making room in one of the several fenced lots for the last dozen or so cars that aren’t yet behind a fence. Blaylock said he hates seeing that kind of waste.

“The other day a guy was wanting parts for a truck and I had to tell him he was two hours too late,” Blaylock said. “It really hurts to do it. I know people need the parts.”

Blaylock said people come from far and wide searching for parts. He had a customer Friday morning from Jackson County who needed a transmission for his truck.

Blaylock grew up around his dad’s filling station and by the age of 12 was collecting cars. Blaylock bought his first new car on his 20th birthday — a 1966 Fairlane. He has bought a new one every 10 years for his birthday, and has already planned his purchase for his 60th birthday next year.

Blaylock claims he does not have the money to pay the fencing and tree planting around his junkyard.

“I can’t even afford health insurance, let alone this fence,” Blaylock said.

Stokely said Blaylock is a poor working man trying to support his family.

In addition to the junkyard and wrecker business, Blaylock owns and operates a trailer park and owns numerous lots in subdivisions around the county.

Blaylock challenges the notion that he has done little to comply with the county’s ordinance. He has built chain link fences and planted a row of white pines and struggled to keep the continuous stream of cars and appliances, often dumped on the road by his gate, moved behind the fence.

“Before I started the business, people put their cars over the side of the river bank, and their appliances and stoves,” Blaylock said.

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