Beaufort Ice Company

The Beaufort Ice Company sites on the northeast corner of Craven and Broad streets adjacent to the county courthouse. The county purchased the property in January 2016 to use in the future. (Dylan Ray photo)

BEAUFORT — County officials went head to head with the town’s Historic Preservation Commission Tuesday, saying they would tear down the Beaufort Ice Company building with or without the blessing of the panel, which seeks to preserve old structures in the town’s historic district.

“Each building that we allow to get moved or demolished is one more hole in the historic fabric of this town,” member Vic Fasolino said in opposing the application for demolition.

The county purchased the property in January 2016 with its eye on an expansion of the neighboring county detention center, though the plan is to use the property along Broad Street for parking for the foreseeable future.

Preservation officials voted 6-1 during their meeting at the train depot in favor of an assessment that found the county had not met the burden set out by the town to prove the structure was beyond repair and had no reasonable use, therefore effectively denying the demolition request.

That action pushes the agencies into a year-long holding pattern during which the Beaufort Ice Company buildings cannot be demolished.

The wait period is intended to provide time for property owners and the preservation commission to come to an accord on how to preserve older structures, in full or part, and allow landowners to use their rightful property as they see fit. But according to county attorney Rob Wheatly, no agreement will be coming.

“Our plan is we’re going to tear it down. There’s no plan that we’re going to come up with. We’re tearing it down,” he adamantly told the board.

A majority of the HPC raised concerns over the demolition, returning to a state assessment that the structure is of local significance, though is of little to no interest historically on a state or national level.

Carteret officials said the need for jailhouse expansion at the county’s landlocked administrative offices, in addition to the condition of the structure, precipitated the need for it to be demolished.

“It’s dilapidated, and it’s dangerous,” Mr. Wheatly said.

Board members fired back, however, pointing out it was each property owner’s responsibility to maintain structures and ensure public safety.

Additionally, several members raised concerns that the application from the county did not meet the standards the board holds others to when considering such work.

The board found the county did not have an independent assessment to determine whether the 1910-dated main building was structurally viable, it failed to prevent evidence it had considered saving some or all of the Beaufort Ice House and they presented no plans for what would be built in its stead.

One HPC member, chairman Travis Masters, voted against the findings, stating he felt the county had answered questions of viability and that the structure was of less significance to the district.

County officials, including Sheriff Asa Buck, pointed out the jail expansion was a long-term, costly plan that would require both state and local approval – one the county was not yet ready to move on.

HPC member Wendy Davidson suggested the town approve the demolition on the condition the county pay for a professional photographer to document the historic building and provide prints and a mural to be displayed in a new structure there.

Mr. Wheatly point blank refused any archiving of the building that would cost the county.

“We have no problem with your board doing whatever you wish to try and preserve and photograph (the property) but when you’re making an extraction from us to spend the monies that you’re talking about doing, and under those circumstances, I don’t have the authority to agree to it, nor would I recommend it to my board,” he responded.

Despite the county planner testifying they had not gotten cost estimates for rehabilitation versus demolition, nor had a structural assessment done, Mr. Wheatly maintained there was no way the county could convert the structure to meet jail or any other administrative needs.

“How could that ever be adapted to facilitate the people of Carteret County and be able to put some type of office they could benefit from or any other use? There’s no way possible, and if you tell me that there is, I would just be shocked,” he told the board, calling attempts to convert the structure a “waste of taxpayer money.”

A number of HPC members held fast on their assessment of the situation, however.

“The building is over 100 years old, we have in our guidelines a list of questions that, in my estimation, have not been answered,” Mr. Fasolino said. “… Aren’t we the historic preservation board for a reason? And to me, the burden of proof to answer all these questions falls on the applicant.”

Additional concerns were raised by the HPC later in the meeting about the precedent the board could set by allowing dilapidation as a standard for justifying the demolition of older structures, rather than fighting to preserve and restore them.

With Tuesday’s action, the county can either appeal the determination to the town’s board of adjustment or wait out the year-long hold time and roll in the dump trucks after Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

Contact Jackie Starkey at 726-7081, ext. 232; email jackie@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

(1) comment

the secret life of man

One door opens,one door closes.Very appropriate to tear down old ice company and replace it with detention center.Now we can continue land use to put some of the county criminals on ice.Put them in iceolation. GET IT!

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.