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'They just want us to leave'

Owners of Sam Jennings Co. thought they were “good” with the city of Medford after cleaning up their property near Lithia Motors headquarters in 2013.

In recent months, new complaints surfaced about “unsightly” equipment on two lots the company owns to the north, next to Christian’s Pharmacy. After 90 years in downtown Medford, the owners of Sam Jennings say they just don’t feel welcome any longer.

“Two years ago, they (the city) said we’re good, and now they’ve changed the game,” said Dan Reisinger, who runs Sam Jennings, a truck and heavy equipment repair shop at the corner of Riverside Avenue and East Fourth Street. “At the end of the day, they just want us to leave.”

Reisinger said Sam Jennings is as clean as it’s ever going to be. Its two lots on either side of the pharmacy, at Riverside and East Third, were previously leased by Lithia Motors and had vehicles for sale.

Isaac Wine, owner of Christian’s Pharmacy, said his store is surrounded by junky equipment. The Reisinger family has a for-sale sign on the two lots.

“I hear all of my patients complain about the unsightly mess of it,” Wine said.

Medford police Sgt. Don Lane said the city will continue to look into what is permissible on the lots, which are zoned community commercial. Permissible uses under city code include auto dealerships, service stations, building materials and supplies, auto repair shops and miscellaneous repair shops.

Lane said his goal is to work with the owners to resolve the issues.

“I told them, 'I’m not looking to cite you,’ ” he said. “I’m looking at voluntary compliance.”

Lane said there is no fence around the two lots next to the pharmacy, where Sam Jennings stores heavy-duty axles, dump beds and miscellaneous heavy equipment.

In 2013, the business, adjacent to the city's downtown redevelopment project known as The Commons, was the target of complaints from Mayor Gary Wheeler and others, who cited a variety of problems.

Officials from code enforcement, planning, public works and other departments investigated the complaints, which included cracked sidewalks and the untidy look of the business.

In response, workers at Sam Jennings graded the lot, removed storage containers and cleaned up the property.

Elaine Reisinger said the city initially was looking at complaints about the two lots next to the pharmacy, but now it's questioning the other four lots where Sam Jennings is located.

“We were just trying to do a good job of keeping it clean,” she said.

Reisinger said her family would like to sell all the lots as long as it receives a fair offer.

Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said his department will continue to work with the Reisinger family.

“We’re taking it slow,” he said. “We’re hoping he will comply and no citations will be issued.”

Dan Reisinger said he’s not sure what he can or can’t do on his property, but insists it’s pretty much the same use as the last 90 years.

“You do what they ask, and all of sudden it’s not good enough,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Sam Jennings stores heavy equipment on the two lots along Riverside Avenue and East Third Street. Mail Tribune/ Denise Baratta
Sam Jennings Co. lots near Christian's Pharmacy in Medford have drawn complaints over 'unsightly' equipment. Mail Tribune/ Denise Baratta