SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commissioners unanimously decided today to vacate from the abandoned vehicle lot the County has rented for decades from Auto Recyclers.
Auto Recyclers, owned and operated by the Liggett family, has been renting out space in their lot for the County to use for abandoned vehicles for over 40 years at the cost of $400 a month.
However, there have been persistent issues such as cars being stored on the lot for years on end, overcrowding, and the costly price of disposing of campers and boats that have made it difficult for the Liggetts to continue renting the lot to the county without finding solutions. John Liggett told the County Commissioners last year that if solutions were not found, the county would need to find a new lot to store abandoned vehicles.
Solutions were sought collaboratively by both the County and the Liggetts, but then communication halted on the County’s end, according to Liggett.
Liggett sent an email to the county last month that included contract terms for continued use of the lot. If the contract was not signed by February 28, Liggett said they would need to vacate the lot by March 30, 2021. Some of the terms of the contract included a continued monthly payment of $400, plus an additional $400 for Auto Recyclers to clean the lot up.
Auto Recyclers also wanted the county to take care of their own snow, weed, and vehicle removal. If the county could not do these tasks on their own, the company was going to charge $100 per hour for equipment used, and $50 per hour for labor.
The matter of abandoned vehicles falls upon the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Department’s shoulders, and Sheriff John Grossnickle told the County Commissioners that he already has a solution. Sheriff Grossnickle said there is room at the Justice Center to host the county’s abandoned vehicle lot, and that it would free of charge. Additionally, he said he has a plan to generate revenue in addition to the cost saving from no longer having to rent the lot.
However, Eric Bingham, County Land Use Director, said that using the Justice Center as the lot would require a Conditional Use Permit and the earliest the Planning and Zoning Board could hear the request would be in April. That surpasses the deadline to vacate the lot at Auto Recyclers, which is March 31.
John DeLeon, Deputy County Attorney, said the county can try to negotiate with an extended date to vacate the current lot with Auto Recyclers.
The Commissioners unanimously approved to vacate the lot at Auto Recyclers, and try to negotiate an extension to the deadline while they also pursue other storage options in case they cannot get an extension on the deadline to vacate.
Commissioner Roy Lloyd extended his gratitude to Auto Recyclers and Liggett family for their work over the years in helping the county with the abandoned vehicle program.