08/29/04 — The demolition man cometh

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The demolition man cometh

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on August 29, 2004 8:17 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Owners of deteriorated buildings are getting certified letters to attend a hearing and explain their intentions.

Those who do not respond will be on a demolition list that Mount Olive's building inspector, Kenny Talton, will provide to the town board in October.

Talton says the town Inspections Department is investigating 18 houses and two commercial properties that may violate the town's ordinance. Talton says at least two of the ones under investigation are beyond repair.

All of them appear abandoned, and none of them has active water service or electricity. Inspections has notified the town's Water Department and Progress Energy to not reconnect any utilities until notified by the town.

Talton said that about 70 percent of the property owners who receive the registered letters live out of town. He said at least half of them usually respond to the warning letters he sends.

The latest round of letters requests the owner's presence at a hearing, which will be held at 9 a.m. on Sept. 7 at the Mount Olive Town Hall.

Talton hears about the deteriorated buildings from police, staff and citizens, and he compiles a list for the year. Then he determines whether they need to be condemned. He takes pictures and adds them to the list, if they do.

He sends warning letters to the property owners and asks for their cooperation in improving the properties.

"The property owners who respond are saying, 'We want to address this,'" he said. "As long as they're willing to work on it, we'll bend over backwards to help them. But if there's no response, we start the legal proceedings against the property. We don't want to do that, but sometimes, we have to."

Talton said he's also going to start tagging some more junk cars in September. They'll be removed in October.

In June, the town tagged 75 junk vehicles. Out of those 75, there were 30 at the end of July that ended up being towed.