by: Greg Suskin Updated:GREAT FALLS, S.C. —
The ramshackle house on Pine Street in Great Falls has broken windows and ivy climbing up the walls. In the front yard sits an orange sleeper sofa on its side and a badly weathered, broken down boat.
A neighbor noticed last week that there was obscene graffiti on the side of that boat and she didn't want her grandchildren to read it. She called Great Falls Mayor Don Camp personally.
"I was just answering her complaint. I would for anybody," said Camp, speaking to Channel 9 Friday afternoon.
However, Great Falls police have asked South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate the mayor after the action he took at that Pine Street home last Friday.
The police report said Camp and some city workers first tried to turn the boat away from the street so the vulgar words couldn't be seen, but there was more graffiti on the other side.
They eventually pushed the boat down a slope, where it was covered by weeds. Then Camp ordered that the sofa, a hospital bed and a mattress be hauled off the property. All this was done without notifying the homeowner, the complaint said.
Brittany Griffin lives just down the street with her boyfriend and his parents. She said he was given the house and were fixing it up.
"We’re trying to renovate it so we can have a house of our own to live in," she said.
She's angry that the mayor went to the house and took things without any notice.
"He didn't give us a warning before he took it. He just showed up and took it," she said.
Camp told Channel 9 he's been working to clean up the city since being elected four years ago. His term as mayor ends next month.
"SLED has investigated me before," Camp said. "I want them to. I'll be cleared."
Camp took Channel 9 into city hall and showed the city ordinance he said applies to this case, which he says gives him authority to remove furniture from private property.
The code states that on a nuisance property the owner must receive a certified letter and be granted 15 days to clean up.
However, Camp said the case on Pine Street is different because of what was in the yard. He pointed to a law that said indoor furniture is not allowed outside.
"It’s against the law. That's what the law says," Camp said.
In his opinion the ordinance is similar to a speed limit on the road.
"It’s like breaking the speed limit down through here. You don't stop somebody and tell them, 'Here's a letter, I’m giving you 15 days to slow down,’” he said.
Griffin said her boyfriend went to police because he felt that what Camp did was illegal.
"He should be charged, because that's trespassing," she said.
SLED offices in Columbia were closed Friday for a state holiday and they could not be reached for comment.