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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Dirt pile blocking neighbors' trash collection

READ MORE: TROUBLESHOOTERS: Dirt pile blocking neighbors' trash collection

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) -- Taking out the trash has turned troublesome for some Southport residents. Waste Industries can no longer drive down their road, and it's all because of one person.

Norman Hankins lives on Hankinsville Road. It's a dirt road that runs between 9th and 11th Streets in Southport.

"One day we went to get out the other end, and they had these big piles of dirt piled up, blocking us from our property," Hankins said.

We're told Terry Lee, the man who owns a section of the road, dumped the dirt piles.

"We tried to get him to open it up, but he would not do it. He will not open the road up for us," Hankins said.

Now Hankins and his neighbors have to use 9th Street to enter and exit their property. No big issue, until Waste Industries came to pick up the trash.

"They backed their truck up all the way down this road here, but they found out it became a hazard, so they couldn't do it anymore," Hankins said.

We called Waste Industries. Operations manager Joe McCarthy told us, "Our contract with Brunswick County requires a fully accessible right-of-way sufficient to accommodate our trucks... We can't go through the road like we used to, just not safe to turn around."

That means, residents have to drag their trash bins to 9th Street. For some, that's a problem.

"We've got a handicapped lady over there," Hankins said. "She can't do hers, so other people been chipping in to help her get hers out there to the road."

So we contacted the City of Southport. City Manager Alan Thornton refused to go on camera. He did tell us the city is investigating every possible recourse, which includes anything legal that can be done.

We then called Michael Isenberg, the attorney the city is using to look into the issue. He believes the residents have a right to keep the alley open through an easement by prescription. That's a right to use property acquired by a long tradition of open and obvious use. In this case, residents must prove they've used this alley for more than 20 years.

That's good news for the residents, but one of them would have to hire an attorney to fight it out in court. That's not the answer they want to hear.

We called Gary Lawrence, who is Lee's attorney, to ask why the dirt mounds were ever put there in the first place and if they would be removed. He said he would have Lee call us. So far, that hasn't happened.

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