08/08/07 — Mount Olive to demolish structures

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Mount Olive to demolish structures

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 8, 2007 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive Town Board voted Monday to demolish the building at 136 N. Center Street and also agreed to take down a frame structure at 203 S. Center Street, where police worry about drug sales, officials said.

Another property, 501 Hillsboro St., is being "aggressively" renovated, "so that matter's been dismissed," Town Attorney W. Carroll Turner said.

The town incurred at least $15,000 in legal fees while trying to condemn the building at 136 N. Center over about three years, Town Manager Brown said.

The structure, which has asbestos-containing building materials in flooring and windows, is an overhead hazard as well, Manager Brown said.

"That building has been declared a danger to the public," Brown said. "You've noticed that we've had the sidewalk barricaded because we've had instances of pieces falling off the building."

The town voted to use New Bern-based Barrow & Barrow Construction to demolish the North Center Street structure. Under that deal, the town would do its own asbestos testing at a total cost of $15,000.

The property's owner, Romeo Comeaux, had offered to deed the property to the town, the town manager said.

"Understand -- he wants to get rid of it as quickly as he can," Brown said, reducing the overall cost to the town.

But despite that offer, Commissioner Kenneth Talton wanted Comeaux held accountable.

"Fees that we incurred on attorney fees, I still would like to be able to throw that in front of him -- that we believe he should pay for something," Talton said. Town Attorney Carroll Turner said sticking Comeaux with legal costs might be difficult after his offer to give the property to the town. After the vote to demolish the structure, Mount Olive resident Dustin Keipper raised his hand with an offer.

"I spoke with my stepdad just a few seconds ago, and he'd like to offer you $6,000 for the property," Keipper said. Mayor "Ruff" Huggins said the building at 203 S. Center St. could be used to start a community center.

But Carroll Turner said police wanted it torn down as son as possible because it is being used by drug users.