published Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Ringgold tree service owner declares victory in 'nuisance' lawsuit

  • photo
    James "Craig" Burchfield, owner of ASAP Tree Service in Ringgold, Ga., stands near his log splitter that's located on 20 acres his sister and brother-in-law own behind Burchfield's business on Dietz Road.
    Photo by Tim Omarzu.
    enlarge photo

RINGGOLD, Ga. — James "Craig" Burchfield wants people to know he's still in business.

Burchfield, owner of ASAP Tree Service at 1999 Dietz Road in Ringgold, has been at odds for two years with neighbors unhappy about what they say is his commercial business in their neighborhood. One neighbor has aimed surveillance cameras over the 8-foot-tall privacy fence that Burchfield put around his roughly two-acre backyard, Burchfield said.

Hours limited

After fielding neighbors' complaints, Catoosa County took Burchfield to court. In a recent order, Superior Court Judge Brian M. House put a number of limitations on Burchfield's business, including that he engage in tree-sawing and log-splitting operations only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and that he limit the use of chain saws to no more than 10 hours per week.

The judge also found that Burchfield's business wasn't creating a nuisance and didn't violate the county's zoning ordinance.

Burchfield considers it a victory that he's been cleared of nuisance and zoning violations. The neighborhood spat has been covered by local media, and Burchfield said people ask him if he's still in business.

"I've never been put out of business," he said. "ASAP Tree Service is in business and will continue to stay in business."

Neighbor unhappy

One of Burchfield's next-door neighbors, Martha King, wasn't happy with the court order.

"A home business does not have two dump trucks, a bucket truck, a log lifter, a log splitter, a wood chipper, several chain saws and five employees," King said.

Burchfield says he's moved most of the operation about 200 yards away from his neighbors' homes onto 20 acres owned by his sister and brother-in-law, Dawn and Griff Shirley.

Burchfield said he spent $13,000 on the privacy fence the county asked him to build. It conceals pallets of firewood behind his house from his neighbors' view and the street.

"Every time the county would ask me to do something, I would do it," he said.

Burchfield pointed out what he said are surveillance cameras hidden in a vent in the gable of an outbuilding belonging to his neighbors Wayne and Allethia Dunn.

"That's harassment, and that's invasion of privacy," said Burchfield, who filed a lawsuit last year seeking punitive damages against the Dunns. That lawsuit has not been settled.

Wayne Dunn declined to comment Wednesday.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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