Roughly three weeks ago, the Seymour Police Departmentwas alerted to multiple violations of city ordinances at ahome on Seymour’s west side at 510 Court Street.
When officers arrived, they found a yard full of debrisand junk, ranging from broken furniture to old tires.
“The entire front yard was full,” Patrolman Steven Pogueof the Seymour Police Department said. “There were a few signs on the property that indicated there was a yard sale, but that really wasn’t the case.
“It’s hard to have a yard sale when the items you’re selling don’t have prices or someone outside tending to it.”
Above that, City Administrator Hillary Gintz said the occupants of the home, Daniel Johnson and his wife, Linsey, already had surpassed the number of yard sales allowed each year in Seymour’s city limits.
So, Daniel Johnson was issued his first ticket for having junk and debris on the property about two weeks ago.
The ticketing has continued almost daily since then.
“As of today, I think we’ve issued 10 or 11 tickets at the Johnson home,” Pogue said.
The cost of each ticket?
“It’s around $70 each,” he noted. “But Daniel hasn’t paid any of them yet. I doubt that he plans to pay them ... that’s the impression I get.”
Furthermore, Pogue said Johnson isn’t upset when officers write him the tickets.
“Daniel used to get mad, back when we gave him tickets for the same thing last year,” Pogue explained. “Now, he’s very nice about it. He just asks us to make (the ticket) for the same court date as all the other ones.”
Pogue said that about a week ago, Johnson told him that he had listed everything on Facebook Marketplace and had sold it.
“When I saw the junk was still there a day or two later, Daniel told me that the guy was supposed to come, but he backed out,” Pogue said. “So, we’re at the exact same place where we were a few days before with a yard full of junk and no real effort to remove it.”
Sgt. Chase Davis, the local department’s detective, said part of the problem is that recent changes to state law, such as Senate Bill 7, have “taken the teeth” from municipal courts such as Seymour’s.
“Daniel’s learned the loopholes,” Davis said.
“The last time Daniel got a ticket for this sort of thing, it was dropped. We’ve got a new city attorney now, so maybe that changes. But ultimately, the city can’t make people pay for (the tickets). If a person wants to push it, they’ll receive community service, but often it’s very unlikely that they’ll ever do that.”
As of Friday, Davis and Pogue said the Johnsons have done little, if anything, to remedy the problem. Their home remains an eyesore in the neighborhood. Several neighbors complain to no ultimate avail.
“From my observation, what Daniel does is just move things around from time to time, that’s if he does anything,” Pogue said. “He’ll move things behind the house, then move them back to the front. Things go back and forth. In the process, it almost seems like he picks up more junk.
“The bottom line is that it’s not getting better. I feel very sorry for the neighbors, especially ones next to them.”
Davis added that the entire foray is costing taxpayers a lot of money.
“Just think of all the time this is costing the department,” he said. “On every ticket we issue, we now have to write a probable-cause statement because of the new (Missouri) Supreme Court ruling from this year. Each P.C. statement takes at least 30 minutes to write.
“So not only is Daniel Johnson not doing anything to remedy the mess in his yard, it’s costing our department a lot of money. That’s the people’s money.”
He noted that one afternoon when he went by the Johnson home on Court Street, there were five people sitting in lawn chairs in the yard with a bonfire burning.
“They were just out there having a good time, burning some of the junk in the yard, with black smoke billowing out,” Davis explained. “I told them that city laws only let them burn leaves and limbs, not plastic things and junk, which is what was being burned.”
“We even gave them a ticket for illegal burning,” Pogue added.
“I’m not sure what else we can do, other than ticket them for debris and junk,” Davis said.
“It’s a problem,” Pogue noted. “For our department, it’s now a daily stop. And we’ve become accustomed to the fact that Daniel is just going to happily take his ticket, while we can’t do anything except write the ticket, hand it to him, then go back to the office and write a report.
“It’s very frustrating.”