A house that burned in 2010 on Rollins Avenue in Hamlet is being called an eyesore by Hamlet city officials and is causing a burden to the owner, but the owner said a code violation on the house is preventing him from moving forward with the demolition.
The burned residence was a topic at the Hamlet City Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Hamlet resident Roger Parker detailed the ongoing problems he’s faced since his house caught fire in January 2010, and the ongoing code violation fee he is being asked to pay on the property.
“First my 911 call went to Rockingham, causing a delay in response time,” said Parker. “Since then I’ve had to hire two lawyers to get my insurance claims, which caused another delay.”
Parker said he was trying to pay a $1,500 fine for the code violation but has been unable to do so. He received an offer to purchase the home from another individual, who ultimately turned down the house due to the code violation fee he would be asked to assume if he went through with the purchase.
“I want this thing settled so I can get on with my life,” said Parker. “I’ve spoken to the fire chief to see if he wants to use it as fire practice … but I would just like this code violation to go away.”
Parker argued that the code violation was preventing him from moving forward with the property; he said he initially planned to tear down the burned structure and sell the land.
Councilman Tony Clewis asked Parker how many letters he received and if he had attended the meetings required of him. Parker said he contacted Gail Strickland of Hamlet Zoning and Code Enforcement after he received the first letter, and he spoke with Councilwoman Abbie Covington and former Councilman Bill Bayless.
Parker said he settled on the structure in March 2011 with the insurance company.
“If y’all will drop this, I’ll tear it down,” said Parker. “I wanted to tear it down from the get-go.”
Hamlet Mayor Jeff Smart let Parker know that he would discuss the details of the code enforcement with the council, as there were many dates and details to go over.
“Just so you know, this policy is not meant to hurt people like you,” said Smart to Parker. “It’s a process designed to keep our city looking presentable. It’s in place for people who don’t care that they are in that position, frankly.”
“I appreciate your kindness,” said Parker.
In another matter, Hamlet resident Danny Hayes, owner of House of Fish in Rockingham, addressed the council as a “concerned citizen.” He said that breaking and enterings have increased in the past six months in his mother’s neighborhood in and around Spear Street.
“In the past six months my mother’s house has been burglarized twice,” said Hayes. “Five other homes in the neighborhood have been burglarized, too. It is my personal belief that there needs to be further training done in the Hamlet Police Department by the Human Relations Council, who can give them free cultural training.”
Hayes said officers came to his mother’s house when she called after the first break-in and walked through but did not take pictures or fingerprints, and haven’t gotten back to his mother about the incident since then. The second incident involved her riding lawnmower being driven out of her backyard, but Hayes said his mother did not contact police because the first incident was never resolved.
“What is being done as far as homes being burglarized?” asked Hayes.
Councilman Jonathan Buie urged Hayes to have his mother report the second incident to police.
“Please have her turn it in so they can see the increase in crime,” said Buie. “That will increase their police presence.”
Hayes said he felt the police needed to “learn how to communicate with the people,” while council members Clewis and Covington urged him to form a community watch in his neighborhood by speaking with neighbors.
“It needs to start in the community,” said Covington.
In other matters, the City Council:
• Heard an update from Steve Davis of T.R.G. Signs, who is erecting signs around Hamlet’s city limits to direct traffic to historic downtown. Davis said the project is almost finished.
• Received an update from City Manager Marchell Adams-David, who said City Hall will be closed for Memorial Day on May 27, but this holiday will not change regular trash collection.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.