07/25/06 — Four houses placed on condemned list in city

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Four houses placed on condemned list in city

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 25, 2006 1:57 PM

City Council members gave four Goldsboro property owners one final chance to bring their dilapidated dwellings up to code at their Monday evening meeting.

The properties, located at 106 E. Dewey St., 601 W. Chestnut St., 521 Olivia Lane and 919 Bethune St., were recommended for condemnation and demolition by Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra, who cited numerous minimum housing violations. Council members condemned all four dwellings, but gave the property owners six months to complete necessary repairs.

As part of the extension agreement, the owners will have to meet numerous conditions along the way. Back taxes on the homes must be paid and a bond covering demolition costs must be posted within 10 days of the ruling. In addition, the owners will have 90 days to complete 50 percent of the repairs.

Cianfarra told council members that no rehab effort had been made on the house at 106 Dewey St, owned by Inez Middleton, of Elton Drive. Most of the chimney is caving in, and other violations include a rotting porch and pipes hanging from the side of the house.

"As you can see, the house is in dilapidated condition," he said, as council looked at photos of the dwelling.

The condition of the home located at 601 W. Chestnut St. wasn't much better, Cianfarra added. Broken windows, rotten wood, walls and seals were among the violations of minimum housing code cited by inspectors, he said.

"The owner has made no attempt to make repairs," Cianfarra said, adding that "most of the windows are boarded up."

The dwelling located at 521 Olivia Lane was originally cited by inspectors last November, Cianfarra added. A rotting roof, vines growing through the doors and openings that allowed rodents and birds to occupy the property were several of the violations listed to council.

Mold, mildew, rotten floors and a deteriorating porch were among the problems leading to 919 Bethune St.'s condemnation, he said.

Cianfarra added that none of the property owners responded to letters his department sent regarding the violations.

Earlier this year, Cianfarra said the condemnation process usually begins with a complaint. Once inspectors verify that there is indeed a violation of minimum housing code, they enter a three-phase process that culminates in condemnation and demolition if repairs aren't made.

The first sign of trouble for property owners is receiving a letter from Cianfarra. The letter, he said, notifies them that problem exists and asks that they come and talk to the inspections department about the problems and timeline to fix them.

If the phase-one letter is ignored and the property owner fails to meet with inspectors, their property will likely enter phase two of the process -- one step closer to condemnation by City Council. Phase two also involves a letter and a hearing, as does phase three.

Cianfarra said each phase really represents a time period in which certain repairs need to get done. By the end of phase three, inspectors recommend condemnation and demolition.

In many recent cases, council has granted extensions to property owners who submit a written request for one. But if repairs are not completed on the schedule they set, the dwellings are leveled at the owners expense.