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A construction worker dumps debris on a lot in Ballardvale. The town has issues a cease and desist order to the landowner.

Where neighborhood kids see an opportunity to play, homeowner and parent Julie McLeod sees an eyesore that’s potentially unsafe.

Dumped on an undeveloped lot not far from the backyard of her Andover Street home are dozens of mounds of construction and landscaping debris — causing the town to issue two separate cease-and-desist orders to the property owner last month.

The piles were left there by workers earlier this year, said McLeod.

“The kids in the neighborhood think this is totally cool,” said McLeod, a mother of three. “The boys next door are running out there and playing army on it.”

McLeod and some other neighbors do not see the piles in such a positive light. They claim the dumping is being done out of spite by the lot’s owner, who for years has tried to build new homes on that property and an adjacent parcel that has been cleared for a subdivision.

“This guy’s not getting his way,” said Jim Lyons, of 12 High Vale Lane. “I believe that we abutters have rights, and we’re playing by the rules of the game. It’s apparent that this developer is going beyond the scope of what’s allowed in residential neighborhoods.”

Bill Johnson, of 36 High Vale Lane, owns the land behind Andover Street residents’ homes where the mounds of debris are. He did not return multiple calls from the Townsman this week.

Johnson has yet to gain full clearance to build on the properties, which were land-locked until a section of road connecting the land to Andover Street was paved in 2005, according to Lyons.

The road leads to the undeveloped lot where the piles of debris remain.

“I had a road that leads to nowhere,” said McLeod. “Now I have a road that leads to a dump.”

The piles of small boulders, gravel, dirt, bricks, branches and brush prompted McLeod, who lives at 229 Andover St., to complain to the town in early April.

Health Director Tom Carbone and Building Inspector Kaija Gilmore both issued cease-and-desist orders to Johnson for the unlicensed dump in May.

Johnson will appeal the order from the Health Department to the Board of Health next week, according to Carbone. Gilmore, reached Monday morning, would not comment.

Lyons suggested that Johnson instead dump the materials on his own multi-acre lot, just a quarter-mile down the street.

“I think you can do what is allowed by law on private property,” he said. “There you have a lot in a residential zone where a developer is dumping cement and asphalt from who knows where.”

Johnson was granted approval to subdivide a separate lot he has an agreement to develop that directly abuts both McLeod and Lyons. But his proposal for an approximately 4,000 square-foot home on that property, known as 8R High Vale Lane, was unanimously rejected on May 2 by the Ballardvale Historic Commission, said Commissioner Diane Derby.

Both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals rejected Johnson’s bid to build on the current dump site, according to neighbors. Those decisions are being appealed by Johnson in land court, said Town Counsel Tom Urbelis.

“The dumping did not start until after the zoning board deemed that they couldn’t build back there,” said McLeod. “One would think that they’re being spiteful, that they’re trying to pressure the neighbors into acquiescing.”

McLeod said she would move if houses started popping up behind her property.

“You could completely change the face of this neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t want to live with a dozen mansions behind me.”

McLeod said she was against a Town Meeting proposal last month to institute a property maintenance code in Andover, which would regulate the condition of private properties in town.

But having a private dump in a residential area should be viewed in a different light, she said.

“It would be better to have a house back there than a dump,” said McLeod. “But I’d rather see neither.”

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