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Tarboro targets housing issues

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Tarboro is working on housing issues from two directions.

First, properties that have been deemed uninhabitable are being condemned and marked for demolition.

Second, with a shortage of available housing and a hoped-for influx of house-seeking workers at Triangle Tire and Corning on the way, the town is taking action to encourage developers to build more houses. Additionally, town officials are looking for sources where property owners might access funds to help with improvements.

On the first front, town code enforcement personnel and building inspectors have been following up on reports of properties not meeting code and in those cases where complaints are confirmed, are documenting the violations.

While the entire town is being covered, some of the most visible results are coming in the Historic District, where an increasing number of buildings are being allowed to become dilapidated.

Earlier this spring, a mid-50s-era house in the 800 block of Saint Andrew St. was taken down and the lot cleared and reseeded with grass.

And soon, a pair of two-story houses converted to multi-family rental properties will come down.

The two buildings, located at 400 and 402 E. Baker St., are owned by Barshea Pierce and the building inspector has been dealing with them since Oct. 26.

At that time, the buildings were inspected and determined to be unfit for human habitation. Following a hearing required by law, an order was issued on Jan. 4 directing Pierce to either repair or demolish the buildings within 60 days. That order expired on March 4 and, at the March 11 council meeting, Pierce was given 30 days to comply with the order.

On May 13, Pierce asked the council to rescind the order for demolition. The council tabled the discussion until the June 10 meeting to allow Pierce to provide information regarding his plans.

However, at the June meeting, the building inspector told council members that Pierce had done nothing to comply with the initial order. As a result, the council reinstated the March 11 order calling for demolition of the property.

The town will contract the demolition and the cost will be placed as a lien against the property.

On the second front, the town council took action at its June meeting that it hopes will spur development of more housing in the community.

The council called a public hearing for July 8 to consider a policy to participate in half of the water, sewer and street construction costs of new developments on a reimbursement basis.

“Most of the cost involved in developing properties stems from infrastructure,” Town Manager Troy Lewis said. “You have streets and drainage and utilities and it adds up. Council thought this might help to the point it could spur some development.”

Should the council approve the Residential Development Investment Policy, it would apply only to Planned Residential Developments and have five basic provisions:

The town will participate in 50 percent of the cost of installation of water, sewer and street improvements on a reimbursement basis.

Reimbursement will be provided on a per-structure basis upon the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for each dwelling unit.

The development shall contain at least 25 dwelling units.

All reimbursements must be distributed within five years of approval. After five years, no further reimbursement will be made by the Town of Tarboro.

All water, sewer and streets constructed under this section shall meet the standards set forth in the Town of Tarboro’s Standard Specifications and Details and be accepted through dedication to the Town of Tarboro.

“We already have some new construction going on, but the council is hopeful this could spur some development,” Lewis said.

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