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Council condemns house

Deterioration caused by neglect is evident in this view of the house’s exterior. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Washington’s City Council has adopted an ordinance condemning the house at 507 W. Second St.

The action came during the council’s June 11 meeting. The council instructed city staff to seek additional bids to demolish the house. Two bids to demolish the house had been received, one from St. Clair Trucking for $23,000 and one from Armstrong Inc. for $9,400. The Armstrong bid was rejected for being insufficient, according to city documents.

City Manager Josh Kay outlined two options for the council — award the contract to St. Clair Trucking or rebid the demolition project.

“I’m for rebidding,” Councilman Bobby Roberson said. “Even if the second guy was in compliance with what we required, it would substantially be less than the $23,000. … I hate it for Mitch St. Clair, but we only received two bids. I suggest we go re-advertise and see what it comes out the next go around.”

Councilman Edward Moultrie Jr. then asked, “Do we have enough money, $23,000, to take care of the demolition if we decide to give the bid to St. Clair?”

Kay responded, “You do not have sufficient funds budgeted. If it’s the will of this council to move forward with the $23,000, we would need to pull that from reserves to be able to accomplish the work.”

The property, just behind the Tattoo Rich tattoo parlor on Bridge Street, has been the subject of an upset bid process. The property has deteriorated over the years, making it the subject of a debate: demolition versus restoration.

The decision to condemn and demolish the house came after the city tried to save it by offering it for sale through the upset-bid process twice.

During the early part of 2011, Reilly Software submitted a bid of $3,500 for the property, and the city was preparing to sell the house to Reilly Software. Later that year, Reilly Software withdrew its bid. Subsequently, the city offered the house for sale again. No bids were received.

The city acquired the property through its demolition-by-neglect ordinance. The city notified the property owner the property needed repairs to keep it from further deteriorating. The property owner declined to make the repairs. Again, the city notified the owner that repairs were needed and that the city, under the ordinance, could pay for repairs to the property and place a lien against it to recoup the city’s costs to repair it.

The owner decided it was not worth it to him to repair the property, so he opted to give it to the city.

The demolition-by-neglect ordinance is used by the city to keep historically and/or architecturally significant properties from deteriorating to the point they cannot be saved by rehabilitation measures.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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