A rundown home in Rockingham that was once a drug house used to manufacture methamphetamine is a step closer to being demolished after action Tuesday night by the Rockingham City Council.
The property in question is a nearly gutted and dilapidated house at 85 Short Street.
After reviewing photos of the now empty structure — what appears to be the remnants of a trailer home — and hearing a report on the dangerous status of the property, the City Council voted unanimously to declare the residence a public nuisance.
The action will allow city authorities to move more rapidly in getting the site cleaned up, according to City Manager Monty Crump.
The site is in the middle of a neighborhood, with easy access, and the dilapidated condition includes open and exposed wires and other dangerous items and debris, he said.
Crump said it was the site of a meth lab that was discovered by police who busted the operation and arrested the occupants. It has remained vacant since.
City ordinances normally allow for a period of four to six months for a rundown property to be addressed, Crump said. In a case like this, Crump said city staff was recommending the council take imminent action; a process allowed in the ordinance.
This action will shorten the process from four to six months to less than 20 days, the city manager said.
“To leave this (in this condition) is just not something anyone should have to put up with,” Crump told the councilmen.
Also Tuesday evening, the City Council members all took turns congratulating Mayor Gene McLaurin on his successful campaign to earn the District 25 State Senate seat.
McLaurin, a Democrat, was competing for the senate post against retired teacher Gene McIntyre, a Republican from New London. Both men were after the District 25 senate seat held by Democrat William Purcell, who chose not to run for another term. The district includes Richmond, Scotland, Anson and Stanly counties.
The unofficial vote tally from Tuesday’s election shows McLaurin was the victor with 44,023 votes, or 52.92 percent of all votes cast in the race throughout the district. McIntyre received 39,163 votes, or 47.08 percent.
McLaurin said he just learned that he will be sworn in to the state senate on Jan. 9, 2013. He said he enjoys being Rockingham’s mayor so much, he doesn’t plan to make his resignation effective until Jan. 8, but expects he’ll turn in his formal letter of resignation in late December.
The council will have to act to accept his resignation and appoint a new mayor, as set forth in the city charter. That person will then serve out the remainder of McLaurin’s current term, through the end of 2013. McLaurin said the City Council could choose the new mayor from among their own ranks, but that isn’t mandatory. He said it is likely the councilmen will select one of their own to be the mayor, and then that would create a vacancy on the council. If that happens, the council would begin looking for a new face to appoint to the post.
In other action Tuesday, the City Council:
• Agreed to purchase property at 114 Byrd Drive, for the taxable value of the site, $3,993. The site is adjacent to the city’s waste water treatment plant. City officials explained that the city over the years has been working to purchase the land around and near the treatment plant as a “buffer” with outlying property. In fact, McLaurin said he believes the city has been able to secure purchase of nearly all the adjacent properties. Crump said that is the ultimate goal, so that one day soon the city will be able to restrict access of that portion of River Road only to the heavy city trucks that come and go from the treatment plant.
• Reviewed a preliminary cost estimate for the proposed Rockingham Recreation Complex. Crump asked councilmen to study the proposal, and he anticipates discussion and moving ahead with plans in January.
• Heard an update on progress of the Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham project, a children’s museum being built in downtown Rockingham and expected to open in February 2013. The project may bring another 50 parking spaces in the downtown area for use by Discovery Place KIDS.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.