Commission to consider request to demolish house, replace it with new dwelling

Published 6:39 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

A Washington property owner wants to demolish the rundown two-story-house at 325 N. Harvey St. so a potential buyer can build a story-and-half house on the lot.

Washington’s Historic Preservation Commission will consider the request for a certificate of appropriateness during its meeting Wednesday. Caroline Collie owns the existing house. Tony Edwards, with AG’s Home Solutions, is the applicant seeking the certificate of appropriateness.

The new house will look similar to the house at 413 N. Bonner St. and possibly incorporate some items from the old house in its construction, according to city documents and email between Collie and Edwards.

“Unfortunately, your property’s bones are (too) brittle. The floor framing, walls and support bands are (too) far gone. The cost to try and renovate this property would be exorbitant! But Wait … we do have an idea,” Edwards wrote in an April 22 email to Collie. “Before the property is demolished, we remove some o the material that can be saved, the hardwood floors upstairs, the handrails, the tub and even some of the siding and use this in the new house.”

Collie has been working with city planning staff since January, when staff discussed the city’s demolition-by-neglect ordinance with her, according to a staff report. “The structure is infested with termites and bats. The property was offered to Preservation North Carolina, but it is financially unfeasible for them to save,” reads the report.

The commission has two options. It can grant the certificate of appropriates to demolish the house or it can grant the certificate of appropriates to demolish the house and delay its demolition for up to 365 days.

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.

As part of enforcing the demolition by neglect ordinance, the city sends letters to owners of affected properties asking them to make needed repairs and/or improvements to those properties to help prevent their deterioration. If those repairs are not made, the city can condemn the properties and have them demolished.

The city has condemned and demolished several buildings in recent years. Efforts to save and restore some of those buildings have met with mixed results. A house on Water Street was condemned, but the city, after a public outcry, rescinded that condemnation so it could be restored and renovated. The house behind Tattoo Rich, the tattoo parlor at the corner of West Second and Bridge streets, was demolished after attempts to save it failed.

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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