‘I wish there was something we could do’

Boyd Lake man decries condition of nearby homes

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Jimmy Stricklin considers himself to be a reasonable person. But after so many years of living near two sites that appear to be vacated garbage dumps, well, enough’s enough.

The Boyd Lake community man addressed Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless and members of the City Council during the public commend period Tuesday night at City Hall. Stricklin brought photos he’d taken of properties at 253 Boyd Lake Road and a nearby mobile home park just up the road.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin The house at 253 Boyd Lake Road has been vacant for at least a decade.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin
The house at 253 Boyd Lake Road has been vacant for at least a decade.

The house at 253 Boyd Lake Road, Stricklin said, has been vacant for a decade or more. He said the local tax office indicated no taxes have been paid for at least that long.

“The house is deplorable,” Stricklin said. “It’s full of trash. It’s surrounded by trash. I wish there was something we could do about it. I don’t know the procedure, but something has to be done. There should be some way for something to be done.”

Just up the road, Stricklin said there are more than a dozen homes on  Hamlet Lake Court. There are two families there, but many broken down and dilapidated structures, with busted windows — missing walls — and couches thrown about.

“People have robbed the steps goin’ to ’em,” Stricklin said. “They can’t be updated, in my opinion.”

He said he’s come to the council once before and been told the homes there were up to code. He doesn’t believe that’s the case any longer.

“Nothing out there, in my opinion, (could) be considered up to code,” Stricklin said.

 The city’s position

City officials are not obligated to respond to comments made during the public comment period. When Stricklin finished, however, Bayless pointed towards Gail Strickland, the city’s zoning coordinator. Strickland was ready.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin The owners of 253 Boyd Lake Road are believed to have died several years ago. City officials said there are no heirs.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin
The owners of 253 Boyd Lake Road are believed to have died several years ago. City officials said there are no heirs.

The city is fully aware of both issues, Strickland said, and were forwarded to the city inspector a month ago. Any abatement or condemnation process begins with the city inspector, who earlier Tuesday provided Strickland with reports about both properties “with a list of all the violations … and they are numerous,” she said.

Regarding the mobile home park, “if the owner does not take care of removing the ones that are not repairable,” the city can proceed with the condemnation process. Strickland mailed a certified letter to the property owner in Tuesday’s mail.

A certified letter will soon be mailed to 253 Boyd Lake Road, too, but Strickland said she already knows what’s going to happen.

“I know it’s going to come back to me,” she said, noting the owners died several years ago. “There are no heirs. There is no one for us to find.”

According to online property records, the home belongs to James M. and Mary Suggs. Those records indicate the Suggs purchased the property in 1969. James Suggs is believed to have died in June 1995. A record of Mary Suggs could not be immediately located.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin

Strickland said if the building is to be torn down, it will be at the city’s expense. Councilman Pat Preslar said the city has $20,000 budgeted for such actions but acknowledged a home with asbestos could take a good chunk of that figure.

The city would put a lien on the property if it moves forward with the condemnation process, but “I don’t like spending taxpayer money to take care of other people’s problems,” Preslar said. “I know we have to, especially in cases like this.”

He then mentioned a portion of Spring Street and said that neighborhood is “like a war zone.”

“It’s sad,” Preslar said. “It’s really said” and said that many property owners live outside Richmond County “and they don’t care about it.”

At Hamlet Lake Court, Strickland said the property owner has 30 days to provide her office a detailed, written plan to remove or repair the units. The next step is a hearing with the property owner at 10 a.m. on May 18 at City Hall.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin Mobile homes at Hamlet Lake Court, Jimmy Stricklin said, are in deplorable condition.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin
Mobile homes at Hamlet Lake Court, Jimmy Stricklin said, are in deplorable condition.

The Hamlet Lake Court mobile home park covers 4.4 acres and is registered to Souder Enterprises LLC, according to online county property records, and has a recorded address as 601 Rockingham Road in Rockingham. The individual owner is listed as Ralph Souder. Records indicate Souder took ownership of the property in December 2004 from Thomas and Sallie Wilkes.

Short-term

Strickland said the city could assume a certain amount of liability if workers enter private property in an attempt to board up windows and missing sections of wall. Instead, she said the inspector recommended moving forward with abating the home.

“I knew that the Hamlet Lake Court was the most threatening” issue, Strickland told council members. “We probably should get police involved as well (because of) some other issues going on as well.”

Strickland did not elaborate on what those issues might be.

City attorney T.C. Morphis Jr. said the abatement process could take two months minimum. Strickland suggested three to four months is more likely. Bayless wanted to know what, if any, liability the city would assume if city employees simply picked up some of the trash around the property. Morphis said he’d research the city’s public nuisance ordinance and report back to city officials.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin Another mobile home in Hamlet Lake Court, this one with a chunk of wall missing.

Photo by Jimmy Stricklin
Another mobile home in Hamlet Lake Court, this one with a chunk of wall missing.

Councilman Eddie Martin told Stricklin he understands his frustration. Martin said he and City Manager Marcus Abernethy visited both sites a couple of weeks ago and realized the magnitude of the problem.

“Sometimes you don’t see the wheels turning,” Martin told Stricklin of the bureaucratic process, “but they are turning to alleviate the situation out there.”

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • Allie Nicole Turner

    Well an accidentally dropped cigarette most likely wouldn’t do it seeing as homeless people have beaten out the closed up fireplaces and had fires in them. That didn’t burn it down. At one time there was a CB antenna sticking about 5 foot out of the top of the magnolia tree in the front yard and it got struck by lightning and traveled up the coax into the house and that didn’t do it. But oh well. Now if anyone wants to know the real history of that house well get in touch with me. Oh and it hasn’t quite been a decade since someone has lived there. It hasn’t quite been 8 years.

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