Landowner Says Businesses Pay To Illegally Dump Trash On Seven-acre Plot - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/27/06-Smith County

Landowner Says Businesses Pay To Illegally Dump Trash On Seven-acre Plot

A Smith County man says he's struggling to put food on the table and keep the lights on. That's why he's been allowing businesses from all over to illegally dump garbage, brush, even toxic paint and tires on his land.

The site is on seven acres off F.M. 2908 in Eastern Smith County. That's just north of F.M. 2767.

"It's all over the entire seven acres of property that we're on," says Sgt. Danny Brasher, Smith County's investigator of environmental crimes. 

Tires, insulation, and lumber have all built up on Charlie Coffman's property for at least twelve years.

"The gentleman who owns the property -- who lives on the property -- is allowing people to come in and dump and he's charging them a fee."

Mr. Coffman says the amounts have been small.

"Ten dollars. Some of them [I charge] eight dollars," he says. 

He's allowed folks to use his home as a landfill.  He says that's all he can do -- taking cash for this trash is the only way he can take care of his animals.

"I don't make nothing off it. The dogs get the rest of [the proceeds]. I get some chewing tobacco," Coffman says.

The Tyler landfill's not far away, but Brasher now has names and addresses of businesses that have allegedly used the land as a low-cost dump.

"Just the idea of them paying to dump out here makes it a state jail felony and that's what we're going to prosecute them for," Brasher says.

He says he's seen our reports, but never thought it was a crime to use your own land as a dump. Now he wants to help make it right.

"I'm willing to do what's right about anything," Coffman says.

Brasher: "As long as he's helping us, we're going to help him and try to see that he's not penalized for this."

With the leads today, investigators hope to make arrests soon. And good news for Charlie Coffman: Sgt. Brasher says those businesses and people who paid to use his land as a dumpsite will once again pay to clean it up.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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