ROCKINGHAM — City leaders gave Steve Scott an early birthday present, but it’s one that could cost him.
The Rockingham City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday to remove a “nuisance” swimming pool on Scott’s property unless he makes improvements to the pool within two weeks.
Scott will have to pay all expenses associated with the removal, according to the resolution. If he doesn’t, his property could be hit with a tax lien.
Scott — whose 62nd birthday is Wednesday — has been living at the Phillips Circle home since 1985.
City Planning Director John Massey presented the resolution along with photos of the defunct pool and surrounding fence.
Massey said the pool is overgrown with weeds and trees and holding stagnant water, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
A memo from Massey to the council states that the broken fence is in violation of both city and state code.
There was no discussion on the matter aside from Councilman Eugene Willard commenting on a small pine tree that was growing in the pool.
Massey said complaints about the property date back to 2010.
“At some point we have to step up and take action if the property owner is not going to abate the nuisance,” he said. “If you live inside the city, you’ve got a responsibility to maintain your property to some standard.”
“N.C. general statue says we have the authority to remove nuisance swimming pools,” Massey said.
“Since I’ve come here, there’s been one complaint or another about that property,” said code enforcer Tim Combs.
He said the first time he went out there, the fence around the pool wasn’t secure, but a lock was soon put on to bring it into compliance.
Several months ago, strong winds blew a tree down over the fence.
Massey said the fence was damaged, so anyone could walk right in.
“A child could fall into it,” he said.
Combs said the broken fence is how he was able to gain entry to take the photos.
James Scott said he recently moved in with his brother, Steve, to help catch up with bills, taxes and other things.
He said his brother’s wife Robin died six years ago, and she was the one who took care of all the family’s business.
She was still listed as a co-owner of the property on city documents.
“My brother’s in a struggle right now,” he said. “Two-thirds of his income has been gone for six years.”
He also said his brother is in poor health and has problems with his feet.
Massey said the most recent letter was sent May 8. “It was completely ignored,” he said.
“It wasn’t completely ignored,” Scott said. “I called Mr. Combs twice.”
He said they had planned to repair the fence, but the city “rushed out” before they could fix it.
Scott said they’re trying to get in compliance, but it just takes time.
“We’ve taken corrective measures to clean up,” he said. “Tim Combs talked like he was satisfied with everything that’d been done so far.”
Combs acknowledged that progress had been made cleaning up the front of the property and pine straw had been removed from the roof, but they hadn’t done anything with the pool.
He also said he had not yet met or spoken to the property owner, just left letters and business cards.
Scott said he had asked for more time to come into compliance so they could fix things themselves. “We don’t need the embarrassment of someone coming out here,” he said.
Combs said that the Scotts did not ask for more time, adding that the pool removal had already been placed on the council’s agenda.
Scott said the pool isn’t a mosquito haven because it has no liner and doesn’t hold water.
“It’s just a hole with dirt,” he said.
However, photos taken by Combs show a puddle of water in the hole.
“Instead of giving us the time to take all the corrective measures necessary,” Scott said, “they seem to have accelerated on their intentions.”
The Scotts were unable to attend the council meeting because neither of them drives.
Despite the resolution’s passage, Massey said if Scott makes “significant corrective action” to the violations within 15 days of another notice — which will include the resolution — then the city will hold off on the removal.
“If they get rid of the standing water and repair the fence, that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “If they eliminate the conditions that are creating a public nuisance, then the issue is addressed as far as we’re concerned.”
City Manager Monty Crump announced the hiring of Harold Isler as the city’s new fire chief.
Isler began his watch the first of the month and will work with outgoing Chief Charles Gardner until his retirement Aug. 21.
The city will hold a reception for Gardner from 2-4 p.m Aug. 19.
Council members appointed Jill McLester to the planning and zoning board to fill a seat recently vacated by Kennedy Gates. They also recommended Tim Long to the Richmond County Board of Commissioners for an appointment to fill a seat on the county’s board of adjustment.
A public hearing regarding the city’s intent to resubmit an application for a community development block grant was held with no input, as there was only one person in the audience.
Crump said the city applied for a grant earlier in the year but the funds were denied.
A public hearing regarding changing zoning boundaries along Falling Creek and portions of Hitchcock Creek has been set for the September council meeting.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.