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The new rule also provides that any illegally deposited fill material must be removed within 60 days after the property owner is notified by the city's code enforcement department. If not, the owner can be fined up to $2,000.

Just as Parkhurst claims, Plan Commissioner Betty Wadkins made the motion on the July 31 vote, which passed unanimously and was sent to the City Council for final action.

Wadkins, who lives in Parkhurst's Piedmont-Scyene neighborhood, declined to comment on Parkhurst's conspiracy theory--except to say that she was unaware of the mulch pile situation until after the Plan Commission's July vote.

"I really don't want to get into this mess," Wadkins says. "This is a lady that, well, she and the neighbors don't agree."

Like Wadkins, council member Larry Duncan says he, too, was unaware of Parkhurst's mulch pile when he brought the ordinance up for consideration by the council on August 27.

"Parkhurst's situation wasn't a factor. Had I known of it at the time, sure, it would have been," Duncan says. "It is an example of the type of thing we're trying to prevent with the ordinance."

Contrary to Parkhurst's conspiracy theory, Duncan says the ordinance change is part of a continuing effort to combat illegal dumping throughout the city and improve enforcement of codes and ordinances.

"We spend more time trying to get code enforcement to do their job than everything else combined," Duncan says. "The bottom line is, when what you do on your property starts affecting surrounding property owners, that's where the line is drawn."

Duncan, who complains that he's still working on code enforcement cases that he started in 1991 when he first was elected to the council, is frustrated that the code enforcement department hasn't forced Parkhurst to clean up her pile.

"The city hasn't taken the action necessary to simply go there, pick it up and haul it out, and bill her. If she doesn't pay the bill, slap a lien on her house," Duncan says. "There's been due process. The city needs to go out now, in fact yesterday, last month, the month before that, and haul it away."

Duncan, who can be a good sport about criticism, drags heavily on a cigarette and exhales when asked if he ever had a homosexual affair with Bill McCord.

"Happy new year," says Duncan, who married his high school sweetheart, Susan. "I had heard her say that. I did not hear the spin on gays taking over the neighborhood."

Parkhurst complains that Duncan ignores her telephone calls and requests to meet with her. On that point, Duncan says, his Pleasant Grove neighbor is right.

"It is not prudent, because who knows what accusations would grow out of that?" Duncan says. "Anybody who's involved in the situation, whether it's me or anyone else, is considered self-serving."

For his part, McCord says he is happy to use the new ordinance as a weapon in the battle with Parkhurst.

"Everybody on the block has been upset about what she's done, but it's her property, and we can't do anything," he says. "But with the illegal dumping [ordinance], now we can."

Coincidence or not, a day after Duncan's new ordinance took effect, the code enforcement department set its sights on Parkhurst.

The next round of the battle kicked off at 11:20 a.m. August 28, when Parkhurst called the police to complain, once again, that Rhoads was attempting to prevent Holcomb's Pete Sistus from dumping mulch on the property by parking his car in front of Parkhurst's property.

"I knew I wasn't breaking the law, because I parked on the street," says Rhoads, who confirms that he stood in the street in an attempt to keep Sistus off his property until police told him to move. "It just got really ridiculous."

Later that day, a squadron of code enforcement, illegal dump, and drainage inspectors descended upon Parkhurst's house for an inspection. As the day dragged on, they were joined by city marshals, the city's arborist, and other bureaucrats whose cars continually circled about the garden of pansies.

By nightfall, city inspectors cited Parkhurst and Rhoads for operating an illegal landfill, ordering both to cease dumping. They also issued Holcomb Tree Service a citation for the "unlawful placement of bulky items."

Sistus, who recently appeared with Parkhurst at a municipal court hearing for Parkhurst's illegal dump citation, says he has dumped about 14 loads on Eccles Drive since May--seven loads for Parkhurst and seven loads for Rhoads.

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Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley