Landlords seek buyout in Princeville


The shell of a flood-damaged house is seen on Nov. 23, 2016, on Church Street in Princeville.


Staff Writer

Saturday, February 10, 2018

PRINCEVILLE — Princeville Mayor Bobbie Jones said 95 homeowners out of the 750 homes in Princeville recently signed up for the buyout option stemming from the flooding of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 that left the town underwater for the second time in the past 20 years.

Jones said the Princeville Board of Commissioners went against his wishes to give town residents the option to take a buyout. Residents also had the option to go with mitigation reconstruction that allows existing homes to be demolished and rebuilt or the option of elevating their homes.

However, Jones said, further analysis revealed that the 95 people that signed up for the buyout aren’t Princeville citizens.

“They were landlords and they were business people and they are in the business to make money,” Jones said. “This is their opportunity to come in and sell their five or six houses at $150,000 to $160,000 each, put a lot of money in their pocket and go about their business. They’re not worried about the town of Princeville.”

Jones said some residents are requesting the town reconsider an additional $6 million that it was given by the state to allow more buyouts. Jones said if the board allows that, another five houses would be a part of the buyout.

“If we allow the buyouts, it takes away from our tax value and away from our tax base,” Jones said. “We want to build the tax base and make it better for our citizens. For us as citizens, it’s important that we preserve the oldest town started by blacks.”

Jones said the town has started cleaning the area for the planned 53-acre subdivision just outside Princeville on Shiloh Farm Road. The new project is meant to offer safe, affordable housing to Princeville residents while keeping them in the area.

“Sometime next month, we’re going to see production going on which is very positive for the town of Princeville,” Jones said. “With more industries coming to Edgecombe County, we want to be in position to offer market rate housing as well as low-income housing. But we want gas stations, restaurants, shopping centers, barber shops, banks and other businesses. We want everything that other towns have.”

Jones also said he recently was told by Reginald Speight, district director for U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st District, that Butterfield is working with U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., to draft a proposal to present to Congress to rebuild the dike.