The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

April 3, 2013

Lyndale Acres fed up with fire-damaged house


TARBORO — Residents of the Lindale Acres Community are fed up with a fire-damaged house they say is cluttering up their neighborhood, causing foul odors and "unhealthy air." A fire destroyed the three bedroom structure at 706 Ward Drive on Feb. 26, 2012, and more than a year later, neighbors are asking, why hasn't the house either been repaired or demolished.

"It's been over a year and we can still smell burnt stuff," said Mammie Lee, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1969. "It is unhealthy and it is making our property value go down. We've asked town officials to do something about it and they haven't done anything. We are fed up with it."

Since the fire, there is evidence that some repair effort has been made. Items have been removed from the house and the inside structure appears to have been gutted out and replaced. However, the partial roof that remains shows evidence of the fire.

The structure is in Tarboro Town Councilman Garland Shepheard's ward and he said he has talked to his constituents and town officials are aware of the situation.

"I've been on it since September," Shepheard said. "What I understand, there is a process that it must go through. Unfortunately, there is nothing else that we can do at this moment."

Josh Edmondson, Tarboro planner, said the structure is in violation of the town's minimum housing code. He said the house was inspected Jan. 13 and a hearing was held on Feb. 26. The owner was given 60 days to correct the violation or demolish the house, Edmondson explained. That 60-day period expires May 6. If the requirements have not been meet, the issue will be forward to the town council on its May 13 agenda.

"In this case we have been working hard with this landowner until we came to a point where we did not see any improvements," Edmondson said. "Now, it has to go through the proper procedure before the town can do anything about it."

Douglas Andrews, who lives adjacent to the structure, is one of 27 people who have signed a petition that will be given to the Tarboro town council during Monday's meeting.

"We talked to the town, the planner and councilman," Andrews said. "Everything is moving so slow. I don't know what they are doing. It looks like they are sitting on their hands."

Anita Mitchell, who lives in front of the structure, said she is suffering from breathing related problems. She said at least six people recently have contracted bronchitis or other breathing issues that possibly came from the structure. She said it's time for the ordeal to be over.

"It's been over a year and it's time for it to go now," she said. "We care about out community. We may not be rich with money, but we are rich in our heart. We have a loving community and we want to keep it clean and safe.

Shepheard said, "I don't know when but it will be repaired or demolish."