02/17/09 — Council questions bid preparation bill

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Council questions bid preparation bill

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 17, 2009 1:46 PM

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The Community Recreation Center, if it comes to fruition, will be built on this site on South Center Street, across from the Goldsboro Police Station. Goldsboro City Council members decided to hold off on the project in January, putting it at a standstill until economic times improve or until officials feel the city can afford the more than $12 million project and the annual costs to operate it, which Florida consultant firm the Sports Facilities Advisory says could be more than $2 million.

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This is a drawing of what the proposed Goldsboro Recreation Center would look like if the City Council goes forward with plans to build the structure.

At their Monday night meeting, Goldsboro City Council members didn't approve paying a Raleigh consulting firm $39,187 for architectural and bid preparation services of the new Community Recreation Center.

In fact, they took the item off their agenda until they learn exactly what the city will be paying for.

Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen told city staff members that he wanted to see details of the bill since the proposal by Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee bill described its services only as "bidding."

"I'd like to wait and see (the details) before we do anything," Allen said.

Other council members agreed, saying they would like to see an itemized bill detailing the company's service to the city.

The services were completed by the architectural and consulting firm in December, before the City Council decided to put a hold on the recreation center project due to tough economic times and an uncertain financial future.

The total cost for the bidding process was stated on Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee's bill as $41,250, but since only 95 percent of it was completed, the bill was about $2,000 lower.

In other business, the council approved the condemnation of five substandard dwellings at 913 N. John St., 1009 N. John St., 1011 N. John St., 507 Forest Hill Drive and 315 Olivia Lane.

But Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra asked for the approval from the council to work with the owners of the first home on North John Street and to give them some time to complete renovations on the property because the tax office had the wrong owner name.

"The structure is deteriorating, not dilapidated," Cianfarra said, noting that it wasn't in as bad shape as some of the other homes on the list.

Wayne County tax records stated the dwelling was owned by Cape Fear African Church, and inspections employees sent letters of notice about the property and the possibility of its condemnation to that church's address.

"And even if the letters come back undeliverable, which they did, the law says to continue to send notification to the address as listed in the tax records," Cianfarra added.

Upon publication of the condemnation notice, the inspections department found out the property was actually owned by a branch of the church, an African Methodist Episcopal Zion church.

Inspections staff is working with Lisa McDow, a Wilmington attorney representing the church.

"We made a deal with the church. I told them that No. 1, I was going to request condemnation tonight," Cianfarra said.

The reason he requested condemnation, he said, was to make sure that if the owners didn't follow through on their promise to renovate the property, the city would have legal rights to move forward with the condemnation and demolition process.

"And No. 2, they agreed to get permits, and I would give them six months to fix it up and if the need more time than that, we will work with them since it was listed as the wrong ownership."

The council also held two public hearings, the first of which was for a conditional use permit to allow a family to turn a barn into an accessory dwelling in order to take care of an elderly family member on Somervale Lane.

Teresa Riggs spoke at the hearing. She said she was the one who wanted to renovate the barn into a four-bedroom unit for her family, so that she can take care of her grandmother while her grandfather works.

She added she would just be improving on an existing structure.

No one spoke at the second public hearing, held on a rezoning request to change property on West Ash Street between Old Smithfield Road and U.S. 117 South from residential to office and institutional. No use of the property was requested, but the office and institutional zoning would allow for hospitals, offices, churches and other commercial uses that are not retail sales.

The council will make a decision on the two public hearing items at its next meeting on March 2, after reviewing the Goldsboro Planning Commission's recommendation.

Council members denied one item -- a zoning ordinance amendment that would have allowed the illumination of signs in the office-residential district -- but approved others, including a site and landscape plan for International House of Pancakes restaurant proposed on Berkeley Boulevard across from Arby's.

The plans, approved by the Goldsboro Planning Commis-sion in January, show a proposed 4,998-square-foot restaurant at the former Berkeley Veterinary Clinic site.

In other business, the council approved a rezoning request, changing property on Piedmont Airline Road between East Ash Street and Stonehenge Drive from residential to light industry; closing Emmit and Hood Streets; and a rezoning request to change property on Simmons Street between North Slocumb and Leslie streets from general business to residential.