ROCKINGHAM — The owner of the burned-out and skeletal Regal Inn told city officials Tuesday that it had “no intention” of selling or abandoning the property despite more than 18 months of inaction and would begin building a similar structure in place of the old motel.
The City of Rockingham had told the owner, Carolina Lodgings Inc., it had 90 days to make substantial progress to improve the structure, or the city would continue the condemnation process, Inspections Superintendent Tim Combs said.
Combs said the city would hold off on condemnation proceedings only if the old structure were demolished and a new one in progress within three months. That means the owner must submit engineering drawings and apply for electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits.
At 90 days, or Nov. 15, the City Council will be able to vote on a condemnation order.
Assistant City Manager John Massey said the owners had made no official effort to repair the property since it burned down in January 2017.
On Aug. 15, he said, the city held a fact-finding hearing with six individuals — including the president of Carolina Lodgings, its architect, its engineer and its general contractor — as part of the condemnation process.
The building stands in violation of Rockingham’s Abandoned Structure Ordinance, according to the findings of fact. The ordinance states that the building attracts insects and rodents, presents a fire hazard, constitutes a threat to children and frequently finds use by the homeless while also being unsanitary.
The Daily Journal reported that an active methamphetamine lab had been discovered in the Regal Inn several months before the non-fatal fire, but an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into the cause of the blaze was inconclusive.
Police Chief Billy Kelly, however, ruled out a meth lab as being the cause of the fire.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]