Ahoskie homes will be razed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

AHOSKIE – The clock is about to strike midnight on the owners of four parcels of property within Ahoskie’s corporate limits.

After exhausting every legal option, Ahoskie’s Town Council voted here Tuesday morning to proceed with plans to demolish four condemned houses. None of those property owners – Matthew R. Allen (418 N. McGlohon St.), C.W. Jones, Heirs (101 and 105 Holloman Ave.) and Vernon, Prett, John and Carlton Porter (107 Porter St.) have replied to numerous requests, made on behalf of the Council, to have the dilapidated homes demolished and the property cleared of all debris.

The homes were condemned last year by the Hertford County Building Inspector. Since that time, Ahoskie officials have sent letters, by registered mail, to the property owners, detailing the legal options.

&uot;In one instance, we actually sent two letters to each owner that informed them of a scheduled hearing with the Building Inspector,&uot; said Ahoskie Town Manager Russell Overman. &uot;Other than the Building Inspector, no one showed up.&uot;

Prior to taking the action, Ahoskie resident Carl Askew implored Council members to, &uot;please take care of these eyesores.&uot;

Askew, who resides at 101 Porter Street, said he awakes every day to see the condemned properties (on Porter St. and nearby on Holloman Ave.). He passed photos he had taken of the area to Council members, including ones showing a debris-cluttered ditch on private property.

&uot;This is appalling,&uot; said Mayor Linda Blackburn as she studied the photos.

Overman made reference to the ditch by saying, &uot;Town policy will not allow us to perform work on a ditch that runs across private property.&uot;

However, after consulting with Town Attorney Larry Overton, Overman suggested the ditch could be declared as a public nuisance and the landowners contacted. They would first have the opportunity to &uot;abate the nuisance&uot; before the town stepped in and cleaned out the ditch at the property owners’ expense.

That same set of rules will apply to the expense incurred by the town for the demolition of the condemned homes. It is estimated that each will cost roughly $5,000 to tear down and remove the debris.

&uot;The amounts we (the Town) incur to remove or demolish shall be a lien on the property,&uot; noted Overman.

Ahoskie’s elected leaders discussed ways to save money on the demolition, including the possibility of using two of the homes as &uot;practice burns&uot; for the town’s fire department. Overman said that was an option, but only for the two homes on Holloman Ave.

Fire Chief Ken Dilday acknowledged that those homes would first have to be inspected for the possible presence of asbestos. That would require a $150 inspection fee, from an outside source, per house.

The motion was made and seconded to move forward to solicit bids for the demolition work, amended on the basis that two of the bids may be rejected contingent upon the fire department using as many as two of the properties for training purposes.