Council sets deadline for Long St. property cleanup

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Long Street site called ‘eyesore’By Mark Wineka
Salisbury businessmen Chris Bradshaw and Frank Goodnight say they’ve looked at the debris-filled lot long enough.
“I don’t know how much more patient we can be,” Bradshaw said Tuesday of the corner property at 601 N. Long St.
Bradshaw’s real estate and construction business is a neighbor, operating out of 530 N. Long St.
Goodnight, president of Diversified Graphics at 700 N. Long St., called the property an eyesore.
“Our customers mention it, our vendors even mention it,” Goodnight said. Some have likened the appearance of the lot to a landfill, he added.
Salisbury City Council decided Tuesday to give Timothy Smith, owner of the property, until April 1 to clean up the expansive corner, which includes piles of bricks, wood and rubber and what’s left of a structure that didn’t totally fall in.
Council held a public hearing Tuesday on whether to adopt an ordinance directing the city housing inspector to clean up the lot and place a lien on the property for the expenses incurred.
Codes Services Division Manager Chris Branham detailed the communications and efforts the city has made in the past year to address the problem.
But Smith countered it was his understanding, based on past discussions, that he would be given until March 27.
He complained that Tuesday’s public hearing was unnecessarily pushed forward.
“We have diligently worked very hard to get this cleaned up,” Smith said. “… Now, with the bad weather, we may have to have a later date.”
Branham described for council the enforcement office’s difficulty in getting Smith to address matters discussed, such as the need for a 6-foot-high fence around the perimeter of the property and the passing of deadlines without any action being taken.
Some additional bricks actually have been brought to the site, Branham said.
The lot also includes piles of rubber from Smith’s rubber recycling business. Though a fence was started, it was not the correct height and was never completed, Branham said.
Since February, some debris was moved, “but obviously the overall issue is still there,” Branham added.
If the city were to take care of the problem, it would remove the remaining part of the structure; haul off all debris, including the piles of rubber; and grade, seed and place straw on the site.
On Aug 7, 2007, a portion of the building collapsed and Smith pushed in much of the structure to alleviate any immediate safety concerns. The city initiated its efforts to have him address the debris on the property a year ago.
Deb Brazee told council she rents space from Smith that includes the extra bricks that have shown up on the site.
As part of her business, she uses that property to sort, clean and stack bricks before they are taken away, she said.
Brazee said she was surprised to hear that her bricks might be part of the problem. She said she needs the site to be able to store old wood and pallets of brick.
Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy said he routinely drives by the property, and he pushed for the lot to be cleaned up by at least the middle of April.
“We have put up with this for a year and a half,” Kennedy said.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said he could see giving Smith until the council’s first meeting in April.
But the council agreed unanimously to make the deadline April 1.
Councilman Bill Burgin said the matter won’t get resolved without council’s setting a firm deadline.
“Mr. Smith has until then to clean it up,” he said.