11/09/05 — Killer walks out: Door left ‘ajar’ on death row?

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Killer walks out: Door left ‘ajar’ on death row?

There was a lot of handshaking going on after the Goldsboro City Council decided to grant property owners Mike Pate and Calvin Hodgin 90 more days to get a local apartment building up to code.

Mayor Al King said Pate told him that he could be trusted to get the work done, and City Council members seemed to indicate by their votes that they feel confident an extension is in order.

That is a little more than a week after city building inspectors condemned the property because the violations were so severe. That action came after 14 months of warnings from the city that the property needed to be brought to minimum housing standards.

That’s right — minimum.

The list of violations is extensive, and the working families who live in the structure were told by the building manager not to pay any attention to the demolish order that was issued by the city last month.

That should make City Council members raise a couple of eyebrows. Why is it these property owners didn’t feel they needed to pay attention to an order from the city to clean up the premises? And if conditions were bad enough, why didn’t it bother anyone enough to do something this drastic months ago?

And then there is the other question: How many more properties just like this are in Goldsboro, and how many more families are facing similar circumstances?

Goldsboro City Council and the mayor had better keep a close eye on this case.

The time is 90 days. And that is the time that should be allowed. No extensions. No deals. No excuses.

No family should have to live in conditions that are deemed unsafe by a building inspector, and it is not like this building was cited for a few small violations, either. It was condemned — that is a whole lot farther along the “unacceptable” continuum.

There are many reasons to watch what happens on Randall Lane, not the least of which is to make sure these families are not in danger.

But this is also a time to look a little more closely at what the city building standards are, who owns properties that are in violation of that code, and what is being done to make sure these property owners meet their obligation to the city and their tenants.

Having an apartment building condemned after more than a year of warnings is not unreasonable. Making families wait one more minute longer than necessary to have a safe environment in which to live is unacceptable and unconscionable.

It is part of the city manager, council members and mayor’s jobs to make sure this city is safe for the residents who live here, and that means making sure there is safe, affordable housing and a strong building code that is enforced.

Residents should watch carefully to make sure that is exactly what happens here.

Published in Editorials on November 9, 2005 11:27 AM