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Gates County seeks bids to clean-up eyesores

GATESVILLE – By a split vote, the Gates County Board of Commissioners will move forward with a plan to seek proposals for the demolition of dilapidated structures in the county that have been deemed as eyesores and a threat to public safety.

County Manager Natalie Rountree said this issue was placed back on the Commissioners’ agenda for their April 3 meeting following a discussion about it in March.

There are four properties earmarked for demolition: 876 Kellogg Fork Road, Gatesville; 322 Hobbsville Road, Hobbsville; 330 NC Hwy 32 South, Sunbury; and 970 NC Hwy 37 North, Gates.

The issue before the Commissioners last week was to approve and allocate county funds to clean-up the property on the heels of several requests made to the landowners to take care of it were unheeded.

If the county proceeds as planned, the costs associated with the demolition/clean-up are passed along to the landowner in the way of a lien placed on their property.

Rountree noted that in some of these cases, efforts to persuade the landowners to clean-up their property have taken several years.

As to how these properties wind-up on the “eyesore” list, Gates County Building Inspector Edgar Mitchell said it is based on complaints as well as by the fact that burned out homes that are deemed beyond repair.

“We’ve slacked off turning any more in (to the Commissioners) until we get these four done,” Mitchell said.

Later in the meeting, Mitchell mentioned there were about six other burned out properties that needed to be added to the list.

Commission Chair Linda Hofler said she was aware that the current list was dominated by burned out homes, properties that present a safety risk.

“Several of these are in residential areas,” Hofler said.

Hofler asked if a cost had been established to demolish and clean-up these four properties.

“As stated before, demolition can cost anywhere in between $8,000 to $12,000 based on previous jobs,” answered Rountree, adding if the measure is approved, the money would come from the county’s fund balance.

Hofler noted that at two of the four properties on the list the debris is already in piles.

“Hopefully they will not be very expensive (to clean-up),” stressed the Board Chairwoman.

“My concern is the cost that the county will incur since this is not budgeted,” remarked Commissioner Jonathan Jones. “I’ve spoken to one of the four (property owners on the list) and they said they had someone coming to give them a quote in the next week or two. I hate spending county money and not knowing if we’re going to get it back.”

Jones suggested putting one of the four out to bid to test the waters as far as a cost.

“You are probably better off to put them all out to bid because the contractor is going to charge more for mobilization for doing one than they would for four,” Mitchell suggested.

Commissioner Ray Freeman motioned to extend an invitation to bid to demolish and clean-up all four properties. Hofler offered a second.

The ensuing vote was 2-1 in favor of the motion with Jones offering the lone dissent. Following the meeting, Jones told this newspaper his vote did not reflect the fact that the work isn’t needed, but rather due to the unknown cost to the county.

Commissioners Jack Owens and Henry Jordan were absent from the April 3 meeting.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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