Troubleshooters: Mulch causing problems between River Road businesses

The dispute has resulted in a zoning case before a city commission.
Published: Oct. 18, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Lousiville business reached out to the WAVE News Troubleshooters because they say they’re losing time, money, and customers for a problem that’s not their fault.

Their neighbor’s mulch pile is blowing dust all over their property and into their customer’s boats.

Marine Sales and Service is on River Road right near Zorn Ave.

Its neighbor is Jacobson’s Mulch and More to the west.

The problem, the wind blows from west to east, and blowing their neighbor’s mulch all over their property.

Good fences make good neighbors, at least according to the old saying. But what if the fence doesn’t work?

“If it gets in the cushions or all the cracks and crevices you can spend a half a day or better just on one boat,” Marine Sales and Service technician Chris Ottersbach said.

He said cleaning mulch off boats adds hours to a job. He said he can taste it, cough it up, and it irritates his eyes.

“When it’s windy and they’re grinding, and all that’s blowing, it’s hitting you in the face and getting in your eyes,” said Ottersbach.

“A lot of this, a lot of that’s mulch,” Owner Douge Peege said.

He showed WAVE mulch around his property, on, and in the boats.

“All this brown, all this up around the console, that’s all sawdust, from next door, that’s not uncommon for every boat in this service pen for them to all look like this,” Peege said.

They pulled the cover off a new boat this summer showing WAVE mulch and sawdust on the seats, in the gutters, and filling the compartments.

They sent WAVE more photos from boats they’re getting ready to store for the winter with the same problems.

He said it even works its way through shrinkwrap.

“It works its way into everything. It’s a mess,” Peege said.

Peege said the mess costs them customers.

“I’ve had people who’ve come in here, they’ve looked at their boat, taken the cover off, they’ve pulled up to that side door and said ‘Doug, I like you, but you know what, I’m not bringing my boat back here,’” Peege said.

It has also cost them extra money. He’s hired a person to clean the boats full time.

They’ve complained to Jacobson’s and to the city.

Jacobson’s planted trees and installed this dust fence.

The Air Pollution Control District issued a violation notice in 2021 after an inspector took photos and videos of blowing mulch. The inspector noted she needed to wear eye protection to prevent her eyes from getting irritated.

Six months later the district settled the violation for $375.

Peege keeps calling.

“We’re still having the same problem now we did 15 years ago,” Peege said.

City records show inspectors are familiar with the Marine Sales complaints but say unless they see mulch in the air they can’t take any action.

In June, the city opened a zoning case against Jacobson’s landlord, SRM Concrete. Inspectors said the dust screen was not in good repair and was ineffective, failing to meet binding requirements set by the city zoning board in 2011.

Neither Jacobson’s nor SRM returned WAVE’s calls.

The city said the zoning case has been appealed.

Meanwhile Peege said he’s not in the mulch business, and doesn’t want to be.

“There’s days that I feel like I am,” said Peege.

The city’s planning commission will hear the appeal from the mulch company’s landlord.

So far that appeal has not been scheduled.