Bertie trio violating ordinance

Published 2:39 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

WINDSOR –Bertie County residents could face criminal prosecution by the county.

At last week’s meeting (April 6), Bertie County Commissioners instructed County Attorney Lloyd Spruill and Planning Director Traci White to proceed with criminal prosecution for property owners who have not come into compliance with the Junkyard and Abandoned Motor Vehicles ordinance.

Smith and White appeared before the board because they said the three property owners have not come into compliance despite numerous attempts to have them do so. Smith said the final step prescribed by the board was for his office to write a letter telling those property owners it was the final attempt to get them to come into compliance.

“Some people won’t get in compliance,” he said. “We have to criminally prosecute them or civilly pursue them.”

Smith said it would be cheaper for the county to go the criminal route than to have him bring a civil lawsuit, but said it was up to the members of the board to decide how to proceed.

Bertie County Commission Chairman Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked if the county had exhausted all avenues to bring the people in compliance and White said they had.

“If we’ve given them the opportunities, and they have not complied, I think we have to proceed,” Cherry said.

Commissioner J. Wallace Perry suggested to go the route of criminal procedures.

“Sometimes the judge will offer them a Prayer for Judgment and give them one more opportunity to come into compliance,” he said.

Commissioner Rick Harrell asked which process would provide more “teeth” and Smith said the criminal process would.

Harrell said he believed the county should follow Perry’s recommendation and go with the criminal process.

“We haven’t reached this point before,” Smith said. “We won’t come back to you with each case after you establish which direction you want us to go in.

“Each of the people have three or four chances to come into compliance and most do,” he added.

Cherry and other commissioners expressed concern because of health and other problems that had persisted in at least one case, but said since it had been in violation for more than a year, they couldn’t see stopping the process.

Following the discussion, Commissioner Charles Smith made the motion to follow a criminal procedure with Harrell offering a second. It passed without objection.

The properties in question which are being pursued by the county are in Windsor and Lewiston Woodville.

Those in violation include:

* Annie S. Cherry of 1115 Indian Woods Road in Lewiston Woodville;

* Cornelius and Chamarcra Beckham of 118 Church Lane in Windsor; and

* Johnny Mack Lassiter of 122 South Main Street in Lewiston Woodville.