09/16/08 — City Council takes aim at houses for demolition

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City Council takes aim at houses for demolition

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on September 16, 2008 1:37 PM

The Goldsboro City Council condemned five structures Monday, but members granted an extension to one of those dwellings, while sending out a warning to those on another downtown street.

Dilapidated dwellings at 507 S. Slocumb St., 608 Simmons St., 705 Third St. and 1208 N. Center St. were condemned and will be set for demolition. And while the house at 439 Elm St. was also officially condemned, it will stand for at least four more months.

Phoebe Annette Moore, the owner of the Elm Street house, came before the council to speak on her behalf, telling of limited funds and the difficulty of fixing up a house that has been in her family since 1913.

In March, the council granted her a six-month extension, but she said she was waiting on city officials to help her with grants and other possible funding. After waiting three months to hear back, Ms. Moore said her time to complete work needed for the house to come off the minimum housing list was cut in half. City officials told her she didn't qualify for grants since she did not live in the house.

Ms. Moore added she did have two houses on the minimum housing list, the Elm Street structure and the one she was living in.

"I had to make a choice to fix up the one I was living in first or the one that has been in my family first," she said.

Council members said they understood her situation, but had some questions.

"How long do you need to fix this house?" Councilman Chuck Allen asked.

"I'd say a period between six and nine months," Ms. Moore replied.

"Well, I don't think your neighbors aren't very happy with us as it is. They have to ride by it every day," Allen said. "We try to be as fair to everybody as we can. ... How long do you need to fix the (exterior) boards and paint (the two items listed to be completed on the minimum housing code to stop demolition)?"

"Four months," Ms. Moore said.

Mayor Al King sympathized.

"Nobody wants to tear your house down," he said. "We must bring this thing to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time, but we just need to fix it."

The council decided to still condemn the property, but to allow Ms. Moore four more months to work on her house.

But they wanted to make sure she understood the consequences if the work wasn't completed in that amount of time -- demolition of the house.

"I have no problem with what the mayor and Chuck Allen are saying," Councilman Michael Headen said. "There has to be an end game here, and in good faith, we have to see significant improvement (after the four months). Or you tie our hands."

Before the council meeting, as council members were going over Monday night's items, King discussed another of concern in the city -- South John Street.

"There is an area that has concerned me for at least 25 years," he said. "I've counted about 10 buildings that with a good breeze in the wind will be down. Do we have any plan for that area?"

City planning officials said many of the houses had been cited for minimum housing violations.

"Well I want to push the envelope a little bit. I want to see somebody do something," King said. "It is a disgrace, and quite frankly, I'm so sick of looking at it. And nobody's doing anything about it. And it's about time we get seriously involved with cleaning up that area."

Other council members agreed.

Councilman Bob Waller said planning officials need a good plan for that area.

Allen also agreed.

"Those metal buildings, it shouldn't be that hard to bring them down," he said.

"We have to set the tone, just like you said," Headen said to King.

"And I'm setting it," King said.

City planning officials said they would look further into the situation.

During the regular session, the council held six public hearings, including two where no one spoke.

The council also set another public hearing for Oct. 20 to allow the city to hold property along Buck Swamp and Salem Church roads up to city zoning requirements starting Sept. 30. The area was part of a four-year annexation legal battle between residents and city officials that ended after the state Supreme Court refused to hear the residents' appeal last month. Currently, all of the properties in the soon-to-be annexed area are zoned residential. The Goldsboro Planning Department is proposing to change zonings for the area to include two residential zonings, an office and institutional zoning and a neighborhood business zoning, since there are three current commercial properties -- a day care center, a gas station and convenience store and a small shopping center.

The first hearing Monday night was held on a zoning ordinance amendment that would change requirements in the office-residence sign area. The current ordinance allows one sign that isn't illuminated and is under 4 feet in height with a maximum size of 10 square feet for both freestanding and wall signs. The proposed change would allow an increase in freestanding sign size to 32 square feet for offices fronting Ash Street, east of Jefferson Avenue, but the area for wall signs would remain the same. No one spoke at this hearing.

The second hearing was held regarding closing a portion of Pineview Avenue from the southern right-of-way of Park Avenue A continuing southward to its terminus. One person spoke in favor of the closing.

Two public hearings were held for rezoning requests, the first being requested by Jenny Aycock to change property on the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 117 North and Belfast Road from residential and watershed protection to neighborhood business and watershed protection to allow for the operation of a hunting and fishing supply store. One person spoke in favor of the rezoning request. The second hearing regarding rezoning was held for a request made by United in Christ Church to change property on the east side of Patetown Road between New Hope Road and Tommy's Road from a single family residential zone to office and institutional conditional district. One person spoke in favor of the request.

A hearing was also held regarding a conditional use permit for the east side of U.S. 117 South between Sherman Street and Veterans Drive to allow for the operation of a used car lot. Two people, including the one requesting the permit, spoke in favor of the use.

The last public hearing was held to allow the public to review the city's Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report regarding Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership funds the city received. The CAPER provides information on how the city used these funds during the previous year. Both areas of funding are to develop the viable urban communities and to expand economic opportunities aimed toward people with low and moderate incomes. A draft of the CAPER has been prepared and is available through Sept. 23 in the Office of the City Clerk, Planning Department, Community Development Office, Goldsboro Housing Authority Main Office, Eastern Regional Housing Authority Office and the Wayne County Public Library. No one spoke at the hearing.

Council members also recognized Capt. Shannon Lippert, a F-15E Strike Eagle pilot who has numerous achievements in the military, by naming Sept. 15 Capt. Shannon Lippert Day.

Also on Monday, the council approved the establishment of a capital projects fund ordinance for the Paramount Theatre, a technicality necessary after establishment of the loan before the building is purchased. The fund ordinance will be established in the amount of $4.5 million.

In other business, the council approved other budget amendments, a site and landscape plan for Life Inc. for property off of Royall Avenue, accepting the state League of Municipalities Green Challenge and the sale of city property.

The council was asked to withdraw a rezoning request by Juanita Mansour to change property from the north side of East Ash Street between Ridgewood Drive and Spence Avenue from shopping center to general business.