Thursday, June 10, 2010
City takes up several messes
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen recently held a public hearing on the clean-up of lots and dilapidated houses. Four lots were up for consideration for action – at 238 West Park, 215 West Valley, one near 139 East Boundary and another at 461 Bonner, according to zoning administrator Felicia Autry.
Isaac Martin explained he has not had the finances to do work on his property on West Park. Renovating is a slow process, but he has sealed off and locked off his property and posted no-trespassing signs, he said. His health has also slowed progress on working on the clean-up or repair and he has no financial means as yet to do it, Martin said.
Autry indicated Martin was first notified of a property clean-up order in August 2009.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said the property was slated for tear-down after being declared a public safety hazard.
“We have the responsibility to protect public safety and that is why we make sure properties are brought into compliance,” he said. “Anyone who trespasses on the property is exposed, as well as yourself.”
Martin said he has been trying to get scaffolding up so he can work and then added, “We could point out housing falling down on people living in their houses.”
“I am well aware,” said DeBerry.
Martin said he wants a permit to tear it down or to renovate.
DeBerry added the city has no responsibility for properties inhabited by people, but city hall has to respond to notices from the fire marshal.
“We have liability and responsibility beyond what you have,” he said. “What we need from you is a plan of action.”
Martin asked to be given time to develop a plan - until July 1.
“I want 30 days to get started to work,” he said.
“Renovate or cleared?” asked DeBerry.
Martin said he and his wife want to tear off the west side that is falling in and use the rest of the house for storage.
Autry said use for storage is not allowed by zoning ordinances.
“You can’t put a storage house on your property?” Martin asked.
“Only if you live in it,” said the mayor.
He suggested Martin be given until June 1 to bring a plan of action to the board of aldermen. He said if the city has the property torn down, the cost of demolition will go on as a lien on Martin’s tax roll.
Next up was Marvin Henley, speaking for his parents who have a property on West Valley Street.
DeBerry cited ceiling and floors rotting and the house packed with abandoned goods - basically a fire hazard and danger for unsuspecting trespassers.
Henley said the property was a hardship on his family due to medical conditions. And people in the neighborhood have vandalized his property, breaking out windows.
The Henleys want to clean out their valuables and repair the house.
“I do not know the guidelines,” he said.
Water coming in under the roof had damaged the floors and some doors are needed.
“Will the kids come in and knock the windows out again?” asked alderman Garrie Colhoun.
Henley said he hopes not. He would renovate and rent the house.
“I need time,” he said.
“Right now it is just hanging out there,” said the mayor. “We need to close this up.”
With that the board passed a motion to give Martin and Henley until June 1 to come to the board with a plan of action.
The two other property owners have not responded to letters from the zoning administrator or attorney to clean up their properties.
The son of Roy Holmes owned the property on East Boundary. A Mr. King has property on Bonner Street - a lot that needs cleaning up.
The mayor discussed sending the street department to clean up the lot. Hopewell Church is looking at the possibility of buying the property, according to the street supervisor Jairus Leasure.
The mayor then obtained a board order lumping these two properties in with the two others that were due for decisions June 1.
“Let the record reflect, Holmes and King did not respond,” he added.
The Henleys returned to the June 1 board meeting and said they had decided to demolish their old house and rebuild on the lot. They asked for 90 days to get the lot cleaned up.
The board of aldermen decided to give the Henleys 60 days to demolish their structure and to give the Martins the same number of days on recommendation of the fire chief, Kenny Holbrook, who said he thought 60 days would be adequate.
The mayor said the street department may do the demolition on the Bonner Street property and charge the cost of cleanup to the property tax roll. The board concurred and passed a motion to allow the city to do the cleanup. The city will also do some right-of-way cleanup in front of the old compress property near the rail yard.
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