MOREHEAD CITY — The city council granted the owners of a condemned property on Arendell Street more time to at least partially repair the structure in an attempt to prevent the entire building from having to be demolished.
The Morehead City Council met Nov. 10 to continue a condemnation appeal hearing for 1308 Arendell St. that began at the council’s Sept. 8 meeting. During the September session, the council tabled a final decision on the fate of the building until this month to give its owners a chance to gather and present evidence on the building’s structural integrity and compliance with building codes.
The building in question is a commercial structure owned by Shelby Freeman and is reportedly in severe disrepair, especially in the rear of the building, due to damage caused by multiple storms. Earlier this year, the city’s chief building inspector determined the structure is “unsafe and unfit for human habitation” and issued an order requiring it be demolished.
Mr. Freeman’s son, Stephen Freeman, appeared before the city council in September to appeal the decision, asking for an indefinite time extension on the demolition order. He told the council his father still uses the building as storage for his antique car collection, and the family hoped to keep the building intact at least until his father dies.
“I’ve had several people who have interest in wanting to keep the building to restore it for some development down the road,” the younger Mr. Freeman said during the continued appeal hearing Nov. 10. “All we want to use it for is a storage space to keep the cars and personal possessions until such time that my father passes away, and then we have plans to sell the property to a developer.”
The council did not grant Mr. Freeman’s initial request for an indefinite time extension, but instead gave him until November to obtain an engineer’s assessment certifying the building is, as he claimed, structurally sound.
When he reappeared before the council Nov. 10, Mr. Freeman presented a report from Linwood Stroud of Stroud Engineering stating the masonry portion of the building is safe and shows no signs of structural deficiency. However, the engineer’s assessment found the attached timber garage located in the rear of the building showed signs of severe structural damage and recommended it be demolished.
After presenting the engineer’s letter, Mr. Freeman requested he be allowed to keep the back portion of the building intact due to the anticipated high cost of having it removed and sealed off, but the council insisted it must come down if Mr. Freeman wants to preserve the rest of the building. There was a lengthy discussion on how to proceed, and the council ultimately decided to give Mr. Freeman 60 days to tear down the back part of the building and six months to bring the rest of the structure up to code.
Mr. Freeman may be asked to appear before the council again in January to show he has removed the back portion of the building and is making progress on bringing the remaining structure up to code.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.