Residents Want Cameron Co. to Clean Neighboring Property

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HARLINGEN – Some Harlingen residents are frustrated with a property, they said, is harboring disease-carrying rodents and mosquitoes.

The home on Dilworth Road is fenced in but the mounds of plastic and trash are evident to anyone that passes by. People who live nearby said they want the county to clean it up.

Piles of blue plastic, car parts and other trash are spread out through the property on Dilworth Road outside the Harlingen city limits.

James Gancedo moved in close to the property in September. He said it’s been a nightmare living so close to the mess.

“Mosquitoes, can’t sit outside at night, drink a cold beer, drink some iced tea, can’t do it they are so big. Gnats are flying around us right now as you can tell. There’s a bunch of illegal tires back there being dumped probably over 100 of them with standing water,” he said.

Gancedo said he’s tired of the possums, rats and even snakes that constantly cross into his backyard. He’s filed a complaint with the Cameron County Health Department, but the mess remains. He said they need to do more to protect the surrounding taxpayers’ homes.

“Out of sight, out of mind, sooner or later he’ll forget it and he’ll go on to something else, he being me. Like I told them, I’ve got time, I’m retired, I’ll be in your office every other day. I have no problem with that until you do your job for the taxes that I pay,” he said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Juan Ortiz who identified himself as the property owner. He said he picks up plastics all throughout the Valley and brings them to the property.

He said he sells the plastics to a Mexican company for recycling.

“Well for me, this is not trash because I make money off of it. Trash is when it just stays there,” Ortiz said.

He admitted there have been complaints against him for his animals. But he claimed neighboring residents haven’t brought him their concerns over the piles of plastics.

“If my neighbors don’t like this, well I apologize to them and I’m going to try to clean it up,” Ortiz said.

The county health department said it’s up to law enforcement to cite property owners for illegally dumping.

Cameron County Emergency Manager Tom Hushen said the efforts against illegal dumping used to be led by his department. He said anytime trash becomes a health hazard to the public, it becomes an illegal dumping issue.

Trash also can’t be buried or set on fire – it must be properly disposed of.

Hushen added the grant that paid used to pay for an officer dedicated to illegal dumping expired. He hasn’t been able to get that funding back.

After speaking to us about the property, Hushen reached out to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. His office and the state will team up to take up the case, he said.

Gancedo said he doesn’t have an issue with people trying to make a living, but there are still concerns.

“That place catches fire, there’s seven houses right here … They’re $150,000 plus, it’s not a lot but we worked hard for it. It’s our home, all seven of these houses are going up in flames,” he said.

We reached out to the Cameron County Commissioner Precinct 4 Gus Ruiz for comment. We are waiting to hear back from him.


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