Salisbury losing patience with trashy Long Street property

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury city officials are running out of patience with the building debris covering a large corner property at 601 N. Long St.
Salisbury City Council has set a public hearing for March 3 when it will consider an ordinance directing the housing inspector to clean up the site and seek reimbursement from Timothy Smith, the property owner.
Chris Branham, manager of the city’s Code Services Division, said the North Long Street lot is filled with brick and wood materials left over from a roof collapse and subsequent demolition of the former Schaefer Fireplace Products building in August 2007.
The building, being used for storage of rubber products at the time, took up much of a city block between Franklin and Lafayette streets.
Nails are sticking out of some of the bricks along the North Long Street sidewalk, causing a safety concern, Branham said. After rains, water collects for several days in the middle of the property, and piles of rubber are still evident on the site, he said.
At a Dec. 31, 2008, meeting, city code enforcement officers directed Smith to erect temporary orange fencing around the site by Jan. 2 and have a 6- to 7-foot-tall chain-link fence installed by Jan. 15 to keep the public off the property.
Branham also asked Smith to submit a detailed plan for cleaning up the lot and instructed the work be completed by March 27.
Branham told the council Tuesday that Smith failed to submit a written plan and did not erect temporary fencing around the whole property.
“When he put up a fence, it was only partially installed and 36 inches high,” Branham said in a memo.
On Jan. 21, Branham gave Smith another chance to submit a written plan by Feb. 6.
On the morning of Feb. 6, Smith told Branham in an e-mail that he would have a “proper” fence ó at least 6 feet tall ó installed and be finished with the cleanup by March 27.
As of Monday, nothing more had happened on the site, Branham reported.
When a portion of the building’s roof collapsed in 2007, it caused some of the walls to start buckling. Smith responded quickly to have a contractor push down the leaning walls to eliminate a public safety risk. It was only a partial demolition.
By April 22, 2008, Minimum Housing Inspector Jeff Youngblood conducted a fire safety inspection and found the remaining structure unsafe and in violation of city codes. Youngblood sent a letter to Smith calling for “immediate actions to be taken to complete the demolition and remove all trash, debris and building materials from the site.”
That same letter also informed Smith of a hearing scheduled for May 22. After that hearing, Youngblood issued a “facts and findings letter” stating that “all demolition debris from the already demolished portion of the structure shall be removed within a period of 30 days (by June 22, 2008), and the remainder of the structure and all debris shall be removed from the site within a period of 60 days (July 22, 2008).”
When Smith had failed to come into compliance by Sept. 23, 2008, Youngblood informed him he would be taking the matter to the City Council on Oct. 7, 2008.
The matter was removed from the council agenda when Smith said he would have the debris cleared by the end of that week (Oct. 10).
“As of December 2008,” Branham said, “the debris on the site had not been completed and had actually grown due to brick piles being hauled on site, as well as piles of wood from somewhere else.”
Branham said he started to receive complaints from neighbors about the cleanliness of the site.
It is his understanding, Branham told the council, that Smith wants to bury the bricks on the site ó an option that would be OK. But Branham expressed concern that the other debris also would be buried, which would be a violation.