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City wants to cut down overgrown vegetation

By Shelley Smith
ssmith@salisburypost.com
The Salisbury City Council voted Tuesday to hold a Nov. 17 public hearing to receive input on a possible revision to public nuisance and overgrown grass laws.
Salisbury Code Enforcement Division Manager Chris Branham and city officials are pushing for the adoption of a chronic violator code amendment, which will cut down on site visits 30-40 percent and reduce the time it takes to get the problems taken care of.
“This will save us time and money,” said Joe Morris, director of city planning. He said absentee property owners create a lot of the problem.
Councilman Mark Lewis said the problem is not just the number of notices or visits the city makes.
“I’m intent on it being more than just the cost of the service as it becomes a repeat offense,” he said. “We need to motivate people to do the right thing.”
Lewis noted that public nuisances and overgrown vegetation were hot topics in this year’s election.
Branham said a second offense would warrant an additional $500 charge.
In other business:
– The council ordered the demolition of a structure at 528 S. Caldwell St. A public hearing was held on Oct. 14, and no one attended.
Branham spoke about the house, and the repeated efforts to contact the owner. He also showed council members photos of the home.
“The home has been inhabited by vagrants,” said Branham. He said the house is not worth saving.
“We have researched the deed, lenders and banks,” he said. “Letters were sent to two banks, actually.”
There has still been no answer from the lenders or the owner, he said.
– People involved with the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Community Garden gave a presentation to the council on the past season.
The garden was built on a vacant parcel of land owned by the city and is located on West Council Street near the Blanton Law offices.
“They had a really wonderful experience,” said Morris. “This is something we may want to look at at other vacant parcels.”
The Rev. Whayne Holugland said the project “was about how we come together as a faith community, get our hands dirty, grow produce, and connect us all spiritually to the soil and to where our fruits and vegetables actually come from. We really see this as a joint project with the city.”
Vegetables from the garden were given to Rowan Helping Ministries and the Family Crisis Center.
There are two gardens: a vegetable garden and a children’s garden, where children were given multiple packages of seeds and scattered them across the ground, producing a large amount of flowers.
The garden was part of David Simons’ Eagle Scout project.
“I went to one of the garden meetings and asked them what they may need,” said Simons. “I added 10 fruit trees, two picnic tables and two benches. It was very successful.”
“I hope it will continue,” said Mayor Susan Kluttz. “I’m very impressed with our Eagle Scout. This is what makes Salisbury special, the partnerships we have.”
– The central city lot is now open for parking. The Lee Street lot has begun grading, and the city hall lot will be paved at the end of this week or beginning of next week.
– City Council voted to allow a request from ATC Associates of North Carolina to install two monitoring wells within city rights-of-way. The project is for the NC Dry Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act, and the investigation of soil and groundwater quality will be conducted around Avalon Cleaners.
– The council heard that downtown Salisbury has a new police officer, Rebecca Sexton. She broke up a shoplifting ring in her first week.
– The council approved the Airport Development Zone Economic Incentive Grant Agreement involving the city and Rowan County.

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