Property demolition causes disagreement among neighbors

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2015

By Amanda Raymond

The demolition of a house in the North Main Local Historic District was the cause of some tension among neighbors at Thursday’s Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission meeting.

In the end, the Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission granted the property owner a year to find a buyer.

Commissioner Daniel DeGraaf was not present for the meeting at City Hall.

The City of Salisbury Code Enforcement requested the commission approve the demolition of a property at 918 N. Main St. The commissioners could not deny the demolition; they could only delay the demolition for up to a 365 days, during which the owner could try to find a buyer for the house.

The code enforcers found that the house failed to meet minimum housing code and was significantly deteriorated because of a fire in 2006.

The property is a late Victorian cottage style house and was built around 1911.

Staff member Catherine Garner said there was damage and holes in the roof of the house. The windows of the house are boarded up and there is also damage to the foundation and walls.

Code Enforcement Officer Michael Hanna said he could not say whether the property posed a direct threat to the public, but there was extensive damage to the property.

Kyle Madison, who lives next door to the house at 914 N. Main St., owns the house. He told the commissioners that he had a potential buyer for the property.

The meeting was opened up for a public hearing and a number of neighbors went up to speak for the full 365-day time period and for a reduced time period.

One neighbor who was for the full 365-day time period said Madison recently went through some debilitating circumstances and was in and out of the hospital.

“It’s difficult for somebody maintain their own house, much less a house in this condition, when they’re in a hospital,” she said.

She also said she pitched the house online and also has a potential buyer.

Another speaker, who also was in favor of the full 365-day period but not a resident of the North Main neighborhood, said he felt like the North Main Historic District was being negatively targeted by the city.

“I find it kind of unconscionable that the city is here again kind of attacking the North Main Historic District,” he said.

One neighbor said he wanted to give Madison time to find a buyer, but also did not want to drag the situation out any longer.

“I would love to see this house saved but there comes a point when you have to face the facts,” he said.

The neighbors who wanted a shorter time period said the damage was too extensive for the house to be saved. One neighbor called the house a blight on the neighborhood and said it was keeping potential residents from moving into the neighborhood.

Madison’s sister, who actually went up to speak twice, said she and Madison were working hard to take care of the house. She was in tears the first time she spoke, but angry the second time when she asked who would pay for the demolition if it occurred.

“My brother cannot afford to tear it down,” she said.

Commissioner Carl Peters said the details of the demolition were not the commission’s nor the neighbors’ concern.

Madison came back up to speak a second time and said he was OK with the demolition if he could not find a buyer.

Commissioner Elizabeth Trick was concerned with the holes in the roof. The holes had not been patched up since the fire in 2006, so she was concerned that rain and other weather elements had ruined the inside of the house.

Commissioner Andrew Walker said he was in favor of reducing the time period because Madison had years to try and sell the house, but it has not happened.

Commissioner Lisa Cartner said in the past, the commission has only reduced the time period when the property posed safety issues, and she was not sure if that was the case with this house.

In the end, the commissioners voted to delay the demolition for 365 days with a 6-2 vote. Commissioners Walker and Tom Wolpert voted against the motion.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.