Michael Bobbitt: Notes From The Peanut Gallery (City Council April 22, 2013)

Demolition of the Abandoned Structure

Last month the City Council discussed the need to demolish houses on Charles and Roland Streets only to kick the can down the road. Last night’s meeting started out discussing the need to demolition of an abandoned structure at West Andrews Avenue. A common theme at City Council meeting is the disposition of abandoned structures the only difference is the property owners. Cory Williams reported the as a resident of Fayetteville who acquired the property through a county foreclosure sale. According to Mr. Williams, the property owner intends to demolish the structure. The council vote to start the process to demolish the structure in 30 days. I think the question is this; who is first to demolish the structure the city or the owner. Any beats?

Carey Chapel Crossing Project Update

Dennis Tharrington stated that after his last presentation he needed to clarify what he said. Mr. Tharrington said last time he talked about selling the new houses he wants to build at taxpayers’ expense (tax credits) to people who pay their rent using a Section 8 voucher. Mr. Tharrington clarified his initial statement saying, if someone is renting a home using Section 8 voucher and somehow qualifies to buy a house they are prohibited from using Section 8 voucher funds to buy a house. He added, “Our goal is to recruit families. We would not be targeting Section 8.” There was much discussion by council members and Mr. Tharrington about Section 8 vouchers. I feel it important for council members, the mayor, and Mr. Tharrington to know that Vance County has only about 250 individual houses and apartments are occupied by individuals or families eligible for Housing Choice Voucher Programs (Section 8) rental assistance. The lion’s share of our county’s government subsidized housing is privately owned subsidized housing. It is wrong to use Section 8 when you mean privately owned subsidized housing. Mr. Rainey said, “He is not opposed to any housing except Section 8 housing”. Does this mean Mr. Rainey favors privately owned subsidized housing or is he unaware that there is a difference and a limit on one and not the other?

Mr. Inscoe pointed out that according to the original Phase I for the Carey Chapel Crossing Project, some parts are outside the city limits. He asked Mr. Tharrington what part of his project is in the city. Mr. Tharrington responded that he did not know. I’m thinking you are building a housing project and you don’t know the location of an important boundary such as the city – county boundary. Mr. Inscoe said maybe you want voluntary annexation to which Mr. Tharrington said yes he did. Mr. Inscoe added that he didn’t think the city wanted to jump through the hoops to get the annexation voluntary or otherwise. Mr. Inscoe asked if Mr. Tharrington’s project would be competing against another similar project and you want the council and mayor to write a letter recommending your project over the other. Mr. Tharrington said yes. Is that legally possible, Mr. Inscoe asked. Mr Zollicoffer interjected that it is not a legal issue so much as setting a precedent. Mr. Inscoe concluded this topic saying ‘back to question of annexation. Taxes paid per unit [in the project] does not cover city services. We can get more revenue if property is outside the city limits.’

Public Comments Non-Agenda Items

Geraldine Champion – spoke of her concern about a child predator “chasing after my granddaughter”. She expressed the need to talk with the police chief who she said is unwilling to return her calls. “The police chief is not responding to my calls. When you call him [police chief] you are directed to a lieutenant and never to the chief. I need to hear from the chief.” The city attorney said ‘we are legally obligated to restrict reporting of disciplinary actions’. Mr. Griffin said he would call Ms. Champion in the next day or two.

Albert Pitts (?) – said he lives in the ETJ and is concerned about the 19 burned out or derelict house near Yancy School. He said this creates an unsafe environment around the school especially dangerous for the children who must pass by the abandoned dilapidated houses going to and from school. He asked, “is there a certain type of law that we can use to expedite the removal of these derelict house because they are near a school?” He continued, “the homes are in violation of city code. Can the city to something about this issue.” The mayor tossed this monkey to the city manager.

Last night’s meeting ended where it started what to do about the burned out, derelict, and abandoned structures that are a blight to the City and the County.