Fairmont balks on home demolitions

FAIRMONT — Members of the Fairmont Board of Commissioners had a spirited debate Tuesday about demolishing dilapidated houses within the town, but then took no action.

Commissioner Charles Kemp made a motion during the board’s regular meeting to have the town choose three to four homes to be demolished, offer contractors the opportunity to make sealed bids on the projects and then discuss a date and time for the houses to be torn down. The town would then divide the cost of demolition among the homeowners.

Kemp said the owner of a home at Holly and Pine streets agreed to the plan.

“This is the only fair way to proceed in light of the legal requirements of the process and the financial standing of the owners and what they may or may not be able to pay,” Kemp said.

“It’s not fair for one person to pay ‘X’ amount of dollars and someone else pay twice that or three times that,” Kemp said.

The motion failed on a 4-2 vote, with Commissioners J.J. McCree and Kemp voting in favor.

The town has $10,000 to be used for demolitions.

Commissioners Monte McCallum and Terry Evans were not sold that the split would be equitable and still remain below the town’s budget.

“We only have $10,000 to tear down houses. I would look like a fool to tear down one house for $6,000,” Evans said.

“I would like to get more bang for my buck with that $10,000,” he said. “We opened up a Pandora’s box. What we do for one, we’ve got to do for another.”

McCallum made a substitute motion to demolish houses and put the owners under a lien to pay the amount within a certain amount of time. The motion also failed.

“From this point on, we’ve got to follow the law,” Town Manager Katrina Tatum said. “The law says if I spend $6,000 on your house, you have to pay back $6,000. If one house costs $2,000 and another house costs $6,000, I can’t make you share in that $6,000.”

The demolition issue was tabled until the town comes up with an agreeable policy.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, town residents spoke out against a mobile home park on Bradshaw Street. McCallum dispelled the rumor by saying he placed two mobile homes on a property he owned on the street. He was told by Tatum soon afterward that the area was not zoned for mobile homes.

“This spot zoning is discrimination,” McCallum said. “It’s discriminatory to put anything you want on Happy Hill (Road) and not be able to put it on another.”

Commissioner Felecia McLean-Kessler said the reason the town does this is tax value.

“Let’s be honest. If I had a $200,000 home that I wanted to sell, I would not want a mobile home next door,” Tatum said.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Approved a motion to hold concerts in town to generate revenue and draw sponsors for other free Alive After Five-type events.

— Heard a presentation from Jeffrey Sural, director of the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office, about the importance of giving students Internet access outside of school.

— Announced that Caroline Locklear will be the new manager of the Hector McLean Library.

— Approved a water shortage response plan that was OK’d by the state.

— Approved a resolution to accept a $6,000 bid for the purchase of a building at 603 S. Main St. The bidder, Stanley Stephens, wants to renovate the building and run a window installation business out of it.

Members of the Fairmont Board of Commissioners discuss a plan to demolish condemned houses in the town during their regular meeting on Tuesday. of the Fairmont Board of Commissioners discuss a plan to demolish condemned houses in the town during their regular meeting on Tuesday.

Tomeka Sinclair

Staff writer

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at or 910-416-5865.