City may extend demolition power

It's a process the Statesville City Council has used on nearly 100 residential structures during the past two years.

An owner has abandoned a home, allowing it to slip into substandard condition. After a specific legal process - during which the owner has an opportunity to be heard - the council can order the dwelling demolished.

Now the city is close to treating abandoned nonresidential buildings the same way.

On Monday, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would give the city a legal right to condemn those buildings.

"This ordinance empowers the city to order the closing, repair or demolition of abandoned nonresidential structures, such as the old Davis Hospital, that meet defined categories of danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public" City Manager Rob Hites said.

The new ordinance is similar to one adopted and implemented by High Point officials and permitted under state law, Hites said.

"The proposed law specifically states that abandoned structures which harbor vagrants, provide a haven for gang and drug-related activities and constitute a danger to health and safety, may be inspected by the city inspector and condemned," Hites said.

Generally, he said, the information that will lead the city to declare a building unsafe will come from city police and fire department reports.

Also Monday, the City Council:

Held a public hearing on financing the city's streetscape and city hall renovation projects. Lone speaker Peter Molleur voiced support for both projects.

Finance Director Lisa Salmon told the council the projects would cost about $7 million. She said the city had been offered a loan package from BB&T Bank at 3.5 percent interest. With the use of recovery bonds, that would be reduced to 1.93 percent, she said.

The low bid for the city hall renovation project came in just over $1.9 million, and bids will be opened shortly on the streetscape project. The council plans to vote on the package Nov. 15.

Accepted a $2,500 donation from Dairy Queen for the Parks Department summer camp and afterschool programs.

Renewed the city's annual agreement for the Statesville Housing Authority to act as the city's agent in administering of various state and federal housing assistance programs.

Was advised by Carolina Balloonfest officials that an estimated 33,000 attended this year, and that 45 hot-air balloon teams and 20 corporate sponsors participated.