Hillsborough family claims town’s public works department is harassing elderly woman

Investigators

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Hillsborough family is asking for help. They claim they are being harassed by the town’s public works department over trash and leaf collection.

Phyllis Drew said she was thinking about getting a lawyer to sue the town because she believes they are picking on her elderly mother.

It started with a trash barrel next to her home — a trash barrel which 86-year-old Isabell Daye could no longer move down her long 100-foot driveway to the street.

“She’d broken her arm, and it’s too much, and her balance is not the best,” said Daye’s daughter.

At first, Drew said trash crews started coming down the long, gravel driveway to get the trash.

But, Drew said the Hillsborough public works crew soon stopped using the driveway.

She said that, instead of walking down the driveway to get the trash, they would pull the trash truck up into a town public parking lot adjacent to her property.

The crew would then pull the trash can up an embankment into the lot because the distance was shorter than pulling it down the driveway. Drew said the trash crew stopped doing that because it proved to be too difficult to get the heavy can up the steep and underbrush-covered embankment.

Drew said she spends a lot of time at her mother’s home as a caregiver, but she too is unable to take the trash can down the long driveway.

The town’s public works director said there is a solution to that.

“All she would need to do, and she’s been informed about this, is to have her doctor send a letter — no medical details — just saying due to medical issues she’s unable to take the trash cart out to the road,” said Ken Hines.

Rather than get a doctor’s note to qualify for backdoor pickup, Drew said she now takes her mom’s trash to the landfill.

But, she has another complaint with the public works department.

She said her mom received notice from the town about leaves on her property.

“A violation report was left on our door Feb. 18 because the leaves were not in biodegradable bags, and I’m like, why should leaves be in biodegradable bags on our property?” Drew said.

From November through January, the town uses a vacuum truck to pick up leaves left on the side of the road. But, from February to October, leaves must be bagged for curbside pickup according to town regulations.

The big pile of leaves sits on her property, near the street, but not on the town’s right-of-way.

Drew said she doesn’t want the leaves on her property picked up right now. “I’m not finished with them,” she said.

She also says the violation notice hung on her mother’s door scared the elderly woman.

“I was nervous and upset,” said Isabell Daye. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

The town’s public works director told CBS 17 the notice is nothing to worry about. Hines said there is no monetary fine involved.

“This is just to help folks come into compliance,” he said.

Drew believes the notice hung on her mother’s door was aimed at getting back at her because she complained about trash pick-up situation.

“All this was in retaliation because I’m voicey and speak up and not afraid of them,” Drew said.

Hines told CBS 17 there was no harassment intended by leaving the notice on the front door of the house.

“It’s simply not the case. It’s something anyone in town would get right now for having leaves,” Hines said.

Bottom line: the town isn’t going to fine Phyllis Drew or her 86-year-old mom for having leaves piled up on her property, but the town also won’t remove them until they are bagged properly and left by the curb.

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