City restricts use of lotPublished 1:00am Thursday, March 28, 2013
By MIKE VOSS
Washington Daily News
A new element in the development of the Jack’s Creek greenway project is taking place with the clearing of the former Beaufort County Health Department lot at 403 N. Harvey St.
During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council approved a declaration of covenants, restrictions and conditions on use of the property, which as Jack’s Creek on its east side. The city is working to put in a greenway along the creek as part of its pedestrian plan. On its west side, the greenway would skirt Veterans Memorial Park on East Third Street. The greenway is a linear park system that runs from just south of the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center on East Seventh Street to the Pamlico River.
Earlier this month, the building was demolished.
Because money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was used to buy the property and raze the building, FEMA requires restrictions on the use of the property, which is next to Jack’s Creek.
The property is now a FEMA lot, which are found in the city’s 100-year flood plain. Instead of repeatedly paying property owners for damages to their properties after floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, FEMA has a policy that calls for it to buy such lots and to prohibit construction of residential and commercial buildings and permanent structures on the lots. Other uses (such as recreational, gazebos, public restrooms) of the lots are allowed.
“Essentially, what the covenants and restrictions state is that the property will always be used for, essentially, green space,” City Manager Josh Kay said.
Last year, the project — property acquisition, asbestos abatement and demolition — was budgeted at $185,021. The grant, accepted by the city last year, provides $138,766 (75 percent of project cost), with the city providing $46,255 (the remaining 25 percent of the project cost).
FEMA approved the 2010 grant request. The property is in a flood-prone area and suffers from repetitive damage because of flooding. When possible, FEMA prefers to spend money on acquiring such properties and having them demolished instead of paying repeated claims for flood-related damage.
The city bought the property several years ago for $68,000.
The building sat vacant for a few years, until Christian Fellowship Enrichment Program acquired it from Beaufort County in hopes of restoring it for a youth center. The nonprofit was unable to meet North Carolina Building Code standards, as costs related to repairing storm damage exceeded its construction budget. The organization never obtained a certificate of occupancy for the building. In 2009, the structure was reacquired by the city and has remained unoccupied since it was flooded in 1999, according to a city document.