Letter: Time for action on abandoned building

October 25, 2013 

Time for action on abandoned building

We are confused as to Planner Bo Dobrenski’s comments in the news article in the Oct. 13 issue of the Eastern Wake News with reference to the property at 116 N. Arendell Ave. (former City Barber Shop), which states that the final inspection on Sept. 19, 2011, found that all problems had been addressed except the broken windows on the front of the building.

That was over two years ago, and to date, the building still has no roof, windows or doors except for the two broken windows and the aluminum storm door on the front of the building.

We have confronted the Planning Department several times about the condition of the building. In earlier conversation, Dobrenski observed that there was little the town can do other than demolish the building and place a lien against the property. He said the town certainly will not want to place a lien against the property to replace the roof, window and doors because this will tie up taxpayer’s money for an indeterminate amount of time.

We agree with that, but neither do we want the building destroyed. Once it is destroyed it cannot be replaced. Demolition will leave another empty hole in downtown’s landscape, plaster on the wall of the adjacent building and broken tile on the ground. It will be even more unsightly than it is now. Experience has shown us that the owner will not allow anyone to do anything to make the property more attractive.

That leaves the town and our committee with a dilemma as to how else can the problem be solved. Efforts to communicate with the property owner by the town and our committee have been fruitless.

At the Oct. 7 town board meeting, we suggested the town impose a civil penalty of $50 per day against the property until it is brought into compliance with downtown ordinances. Planner Mark Hetrick said it is within the town’s authority to issue the civil penalty. We also asked the mayor to direct the town’s attorney to research the legality of foreclosing on the property when the lien exceeds the property’s tax value, which at present is $14,589. At that time, the property can be offered at public auction with the stipulation that the buyer will restore the building.

We hope the town can find a way to save this bit of Zebulon history. Three years is long enough for negotiations. It’s time for the town to take action.

Ramona Davis

Zebulon

Editor’s note: Ramona Davis is the chairman of the Zebulon Beautification Committee.

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