Repair it or we’ll remove it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE ó The town has started code enforcement action against the owner of a downtown building that could force demolition of the building if it isn’t repaired or removed.
A hearing has been set for Wednesday in the enforcement action against David Morton for the building at 101 N. Main St.
Tony Cline, code enforcement officer, cited severe areas of dilapidation and neglect of maintenance in the notice to Morton, who is chairman of the town’s Planning Board.
The building has drawn complaints previously, including in 2006 when a portion of a wall collapsed after an elevator motor fell from the roof, sending bricks flying. A neighboring businessman cited panes of glass falling on the sidewalk, barely missing a pedestrian.
At that time, the town didn’t take action because officials couldn’t find the ordinance dealing with non-residential buildings. Earlier this year, a copy of the 10-year-old ordinance was discovered in the files of Benchmark in Kannapolis, which provides contract planning services.
Cline and Jeff Gledhill, fire chief, recently inspected the building.
The fire department used its ladder truck to get a good look inside the three-story structure.
Much of the roof is gone.
Gledhill confirmed Tuesday that he determined that the building is unsafe for firefighters. If a fire occurred, firefighters would not be sent into the building. Instead they would protect adjacent buildings.
Cline said repairing the building and bringing it to code may cost more than its tax value. He said Morton, an engineer, has met with him and plans to submit plans for repairs at the Wednesday hearing.Morton told the Post this week that he intends to repair the building, which was built in 1901. It was originally a hardware store.
Morton noted that he was working on repairing the building when the town took action against his house at 410 South Main St. At that point he quit work on the building and focused on the house.
In October 2006, the town ordered Morton and his family to vacate the home and either make repairs or demolish the structure.
Morton hired a contractor to restore the house. Work has slowed in recent months as Morton has done much of the interior work himself.
At recent board meetings, aldermen have questioned the progress.
Morton said he expects the project to be completed in the next several weeks. He noted that he is working to restore the house, which dates to the early 1900s.