Editorial: Too accommodating? It seems so

October 11, 2013 

Three years ago this month, the town of Zebulon issued notice to Wilhelm Marsh that his property at 116 N. Arendell Avenue was in violation of the town’s nuisance ordinance. It took a while, but Marsh finally addressed the concerns town officials had.

Now the building sits forlorn in the midst of the town’s downtown district, tape stretched across parts of the building’s front glass and debris, once removed but since returned and shoved inside the now-roofless building.

Downtown booster Ramona Davis approached the town commissioners last week and asked them to do something about it, short of tearing the 105-year-old building down. She shouldn’t have had to.

The town staff has struggled to get the property owner to respond to the town’s concerns. In fact, the town has not made correcting the problems a real priority either. The last time they sent any communications to the property owner was a year ago.

In the meantime, a downtown district with 11 other vacant properties has what can only be described as an eyesore square in the center of downtown.

Four months ago, town commissioners adopted language that gives the staff even more power to police problems like this. Still no action on the part of the town’s staff.

Downtown Zebulon faces its share of struggles, like many small-town downtowns. As business moves to more visible locations along busier thoroughfares, downtowns must work to redefine themeselves. The town has worked to accomplish that, adopting rules that help guide property owners to keep the appearance of their buildings looking nice.

Despite having the new rules with more teeth, the town has done nothing.

Town staffers say they want to give the property owner a reasonable opportunity to correct the problems. Three years, in our mind, is sufficient. If you give the town the benefit of the doubt and suggest that the town worked diligently to resolve the problem for two years after it was first brought to their attention, then we would point to the last 12 months in which nothing has happened.

It’s time the town uses its authority to encourage the property owner to fix the mess. It has no place in downtown Zebulon and town officials can resolve the problem once and for all.

If they want to.

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