HARKER HEIGHTS — J.C. Schoel and his father, Randy Schoel, see dozens of dump trucks pass by their business on Lookout Ridge Boulevard each day. When the dump trucks pass, they are full, and when they pass by again, they are empty.
Piles of so-called “clean fill” and construction debris have been accumulating for about a year on adjacent property the family sold a few years ago. But in recent months, that debris — along with old carpets, tires and other trash — is finding its way onto the Schoels’ property.
“No one is policing what is getting dumped back there. The trucks dumping during the day isn’t the issue,” Randy Schoel said. “It’s the private trucks and flat beds that come at night to dump their tires and trash.”
After J.C. Schoel was physically threatened for confronting a person illegally dumping on his property, he brought the ongoing issue before the Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday, hoping the city could intervene.
“These cases can be hard to prosecute if there are no witnesses or identifying objects in the trash itself. The city has police and code enforcement officers that routinely patrol the city and are always on the lookout for would-be dumpers,” City Manager David Mitchell said. “Property owners have the responsibility of cleaning up their property after a dumping event, if those who dumped the trash cannot be identified.”
Mitchell said if a person’s property becomes a dump site, they should call City Hall or the police department and the city will investigate.
“If dumping has occurred, the resident should provide a location and any information they can give on the event such as any witnesses, vehicles used to dump materials, time of the event, etc.,” Mitchell said. “Obviously, if the resident catches the party in the act, they can contact the police department so that we can deal with the offenders immediately.”
Police Chief Mike Gentry advises people not to “self-police” the situation but to instead call the station with a license plate number.
“Signs on properties calling for clean fill are essentially an open invitation for dumping,” he said.
Kevin Keller, spokesman for the city of Copperas Cove, and Hilary Shine, Killeen spokeswoman, said their cities have not experienced an increase in dumping of construction materials following the recent severe weather.
“We have made a concerted effort to educate contractors about our city ordinances when they apply for permits. We have actually experienced a decrease in illegal dumping cases in the past few years,” said Shine, adding that the number of cases are down 35 percent compared to the same period last year.
A security camera is set up on the Andersen Schoel Office Interiors building pointed directly at the driveway being used by vehicles to dump, but it’s range isn’t strong enough to catch what’s happening when the sun goes down.
J.C. Schoel was leaving work one day when a truck was dumping. He snapped a photo of the dumper’s license plate and passed it along to Harker Heights police, which is investigating.