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Homeowner’s last-minute plea saves house — for now

KANNAPOLIS — A homeowner dashed in at the last minute Monday evening to implore the Kannapolis City Council not to demolish a home he’s renovating.
Council members were in the midst of discussing a minimum housing code violation at 1222 Milton Ave. with Jeff Wells, deputy planning director. Frank Guarino owns the home. Wells first contacted him in December 2013, but told council they’d had no direct contact the past few months.
“Does he have any interest in continuing the project at all?” Mayor Darrell Hinnant asked.
“He’s not had interest, as far as we can tell, in the past several months,” Wells said.
“When is the last time you talked to him?” asked Councilman Doug Wilson.
“It’s been a couple of months,” Wells said.
The board seemed to hesitate, because the property was not in bad condition.
“He’s hard to get a hold of,” Wells said, then looked to his right. “Oh! Here he is.”
Hinnant asked Guarino if he wanted to speak to council and Guarino said he did.
“What is your vision for this property?” Hinnant asked him. “Do you want to complete the work.”
“I want to complete it,” Guarino said. “There’s been a matter of poor judgment on my part.”
He went on to say that the person he’d lined up to do the roofing and siding was now working on other projects.
“As for the interior,” Guarino said, “the house is a skeleton now.”
Guarino estimated the remaining work of roofing and siding would cost him about $2,200.
“We’ve torn down a lot of houses a lot worse than this,” Councilman Ryan Dayvault said.
Hinnant wanted to make sure that Guarino understood that agreeing to a timetable to bring the property up to code meant council would hold him to that schedule.
Councilman Darrell Jackson made a motion to table to demolition request for 90 days, and re-evaluate the progress on the property at that time. Dayvault seconded the motion.
Wells said he would be happy to work with Guarino on an appropriate timeline for improvements, and Guarino told Wilson he felt sure he could complete the roofing, siding, electrical work and most of the plumbing work in the 90-day time period.
Council voted unanimously 7-0 to table the request.
“You have a lot of work to do, sir,” Hinnant told Guarino, “and we wish you well.”
In other business, council voted unanimously to:
• Conduct a job classification, compensation and staffing analysis study.
Springsted Inc. will conduct the study at a cost of no more than $50,000, City Manager Mike Legg said. “We are long overdue for this study.”
Several positions have changed over time, said Tina Cline, human resources director, and need to be reviewed as to whether they’re exempt or non-exempt under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act.
A third party should do this study, Legg said. “It takes any biases we have out of the equation and looks at it objectively.”
On its consent agenda, council voted unanimously to:
• Cancel its Oct. 13 City Council meeting because the mayor and several council members will be attending the N.C. League of Municipalities’ annual conference in Greensboro Oct. 12-14.
• Make payments for private property damage totaling $2,500 at 306 Dakota St. and 642 Peace Haven Road because of a waterline break in June.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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