ROWLETT — Dave Kysar's house has a tidy front, but what is hidden in the back now has him in trouble.
"This is the vehicle that my mother left to me when she passed away in 2006," Kysar said as he opened the gate across his driveway. "It's a 2002 Dodge Caravan."
It is an unregistered vehicle and it is under a tarp, which is a code violation in the City of Rowlett. That's the only code he's violating now, but he admits months ago there were many more.
He had trash piled up and building materials from an unfinished construction project stacked tall. He thought since no one else could see it, it wasn't hurting anyone.
But the neighbors and the city thought otherwise.
"We began receiving complaints of rodents, mosquitoes, debris at the property," said Lt. Marvin Gibbs, the Commander of Community Services in the Rowlett Police Department.
The city said it has received 24 complaints about Kysar's property since 2008. They also provided e-mails from neighbors about a rat problem.
Code enforcement officers went to the Kysar home in June to investigate a complaint of standing water, but Kysar's wife told them their pool had been taken down years before and she would not let them in the backyard to inspect.
Gibbs then consulted an attorney, twice.
"We had people reporting a violation, and we had to verify if there was a problem or not, because it affects the well being and life and safety of those around," he said.
After an attorney's OK, Rowlett code enforcement officers pulled their truck down Kysar's alley, parked it, climbed into the bed and looked over his eight foot tall privacy fence. They took a series of pictures.
Then they cited Kysar for three violations:
- trash and debris
- storing building materials outside
- keeping a junk vehicle in his driveway
But Kysar maintains he's the only one who can see the property, and he questions why officers thought it was OK to look over his fence.
"A privacy fence stands for privacy. I'm starting to wonder if it does in the City of Rowlett," he said. "My neighbor here a couple days later said he just about called the police because he saw somebody snooping in my backyard. He said if he hadn't seen the City of Rowlett emblem on their door, he would have called the police. Turns out it was the police."
Gibbs said he knew this was going to be a hot topic, which is why he sought legal advice. The attorney told him as long as the officers were in a public place — such as a road or an alley — it was legal for them to peer over the privacy fence.
"I had to resolve the issue," Gibbs said. "Once we know it's there, we can't turn a blind eye."
Kysar has cleaned up the trash. "I understand that part of it, and that's been corrected," he said.
But he doesn't want to move the car.
"I think they've just gone too far," Kysar said. "I don't think I'd be setting a good example for my son if I didn't stand up for what is right. I may win or I may lose, but I'll fight it as much as I can."
He's going to address the Rowlett City Council on Tuesday night.