Kannapolis council gives reprieve to house set for demolition
KANNAPOLIS — Although a brief public hearing on the 2014-2015 budget took place Monday evening, Kannapolis City Council members spent a significant portion of their meeting discussing demolition of a dilapidated structure.
Ultimately, council members voted 5-1 to table for 60 days an ordinance to demolish a house at 209 Rice St. Councilman Darrell Jackson was absent due to a death in his family and Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas cast a rare dissenting vote.
At its Feb. 24 meeting, the council voted to table demolition for 90 days, because Billy Ray Brown and his son, Anthony Brown of Summerfield, a licensed general contractor, were planning to bring it up to code. However, very little work has been done on the property — Billy Ray Brown blamed bad weather — and the house still is not up to code.
“It still has a long way to go before it meets the minimum housing code,” said Jeff Wells, deputy planning director. He added, however, that the back taxes were paid and are now up to date.
“We do plan to continue the work,” Billy Ray Brown said.
Wells said that no permits had been authorized, but Billy Ray Brown said that the total cost of renovation would be somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000. “We’re doing most of the work ourselves.”
Billy Ray Brown asked for an extension.
Wells and City Attorney Walter Safrit both said they were satisfied that the process to work with the homeowners had been completed, but council members still wanted to give the Browns a chance.
“I hate to take anyone’s property who is in good faith trying to get it together,” Councilman Tom Kincaid said. “My heart goes out to them.”
Councilman Ryan Dayvault agreed. “There is plenty of property in Kannapolis that people have no interest in fixing. I would support giving them 60 days.”
“The fact they paid the taxes to me says something,” Councilman Doug Wilson said. “They’re showing effort, when a lot of people don’t.”
Council then voted swiftly and unanimously to demolish structures at 1210 Clifton St. and 210 Rosemont Ave. at costs of $3,000 and $8,000, respectively, paid for from Community Development Block Grant funds.
In other business:
• Before the public hearing on the budget, City Manager Mike Legg noted, as he did at last month’s special budget meeting, several highlights of the 2014-2015 budget.
Legg said that the city’s 2015 budget is $53,905,757, a 3.99 percent increase from last year’s revised budget. He said that the two big drivers for the budget are a first-year debt service on the municipal building and police headquarters, and full city funding for 16 firefighters due to the expected lapse of a federal personnel grant.
There is continued growth in property tax, sales tax and water and sewer revenues, he said, and implementation of a 4-cent tax increase to fund the new building and the firefighter positions. There are no water or sewer increases.
Mayor Darrell Hinnant continues to be miffed about a $136,000 decrease in revenues due to a change in state law regarding business privilege licenses.
Also in the budget: some $600,000 for an economic development initiative; $600,000 for water purchases from Albemarle and Salisbury; nearly $500,000 for street paving; and outlays for police cruisers and public works equipment for paving and mowing.
Legg said that there had been concerns about hiring additional police officers. Those concerns would be addressed through a staffing needs analysis or staffing plan to be conducted throughout all city departments. He said that the analysis would begin at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
Only two residents spoke during the public hearing. Marilyn Barnhardt, who lives on Wabash Lane, asked to be de-annexed because she said she had received no water or sewer on her property after being forcibly annexed in 1999. Her husband, Thomas, said he had experienced “sticker shock” from increases in stormwater and environmental fees.
The council is set to take action on the budget at its June 23 meeting.
• Council voted unanimously to approve Community Development Block Grant nonprofit grant funding to two organizations at $24,000 each: Cooperative Christian Ministry and Opportunity House.
• Wilmer Melton, director of public works, recognized five employees as Roads Scholars. This is a program by the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at N.C. State University which promotes certification in construction knowledge and methods. Those employees included Daniel Jones, Josh Whitley, Ed Franklin, Kevin Ritchie and Jerome Blakeney, who was also recognized with a facility management certificate.
• Legg noted a bicycle master plan is almost complete. Earlier in the meeting, Ray Atkinson had spoken in support of a road diet which would include buffered bicycle lanes.
“There will be a broader discussion on bicycle issues,” Legg said. “We’re still in a fact-finding mode.”
The council entered closed session at 7:45 p.m.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.