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Youngsville tackles drainage issue, catches grief on Woodlief Supply Co. cleanup.
By Clellie Allen
YOUNGSVILLE — Commis-sioners have decided to dip into the contingency fund to pay for needed drainage work near town hall and the ditches along Cross Street to alleviate flooding from runoff.
The issue was first brought before commissioners in February when Laurine Young, 204 E. Franklin St., alerted them to the problem of standing water in her yard.
At that time, she told the board she’d replaced the moisture barrier under her house, dug troughs to channel water and did not know what to do next. The water appeared to be running into her yard from behind her home.
At Thursday’s meeting, Town Attorney Joseph Oliveri explained that some water appeared to come from town property, but there were other properties that also looked like they could be contributing to the runoff.
Commissioner Larry Wiggins reported that three bids had come in for the needed repairs. Oaks Grading Inc. of Youngsville bid $23,423, JMD Grading Inc. of Louisburg bid $25,010 and Johnny King Grading of Louisburg bid $24,800.
The contingency fund, which is an emergency account, has just $34,000. But the town does not have to foot the entire bill.
Town Clerk Emily Hurd said a third of the cost would be covered by Powell Bill funds, also known as State Street-Aid funds.
Town Administrator Bill Tatum explained that Oliveri had looked into whether the town could require adjacent property owners to help pay for the repairs, but without an engineering study, which is costly, that would not be possible.
“This is a good neighbor thing,” Tatum said.
Commissioners Joe Johnson and Terry Hedlund agreed.
“I’m not saying this is [the town’s] fault, but we can fix this,” Johnson said.
Hedlund added, “There are times we need to take action. In my opinion, this is one of these times.
Commissioners unanimously accepted Oaks Grading Inc.’s bid for the work.
The board also held a public hearing and unanimously adopted a public nuisance ordinance.
The single point of discussion on the ordinance, which covers everything from overly tall grass to accumulation of trash, unsecured dangerous substances and open storage of junked appliances, car parts and the like, was about the maximum height of grass allowed and the amount of time property owners would have to bring their properties to code once notified.
Commissioners passed the ordinance, changing the maximum allowed grass height to 10 inches and giving owners 10 days to correct any problems.
Town accused of theft
During public comment time, several residents spoke in support of the Woodlief Supply Company, which has been under pressure from the town to clean up the property.
Tom DeMent, who in the past ran an antique shop in the original building, which once served as a tobacco warehouse, accused the town of stealing his building materials. He was referring to a pile of lumber and cinderblocks picked up by the the contractor the town hired to clean up the property.
Town ordinances require the town to step in when a property owner is unable to comply with an ordinance in the specified time period by bidding out the work and then billing the property owner for it.
“[They] stole my building materials, flat out,” he said. “And we got a bill for $2,740 — for stealing my building materials.”
Woodlief’s co-owner Evelyn Allen also spoke, but not without having to pause as her emotions got the better of her.
“We’ve tried mighty hard to do the best we could. But in recent years, things have been going down,” she said. “We’ve put every bit of money we’ve had (into it). Tried to save everything,” she said.
Woodlief Supply has been in Allen’s family since its opening at 138 E. Main St. in 1936. The store was first run by her father and mother, Morris and Bessie Woodlief.
The front windows of the place were smashed by vandals in 2010 and after it went out of business, the general property became unkempt.
Allen said she saw the contractor loading up the cinderblocks and tried to tell the workers that they were not trash and to not take them.
“I know it had been months (since getting the notice from town), but we couldn’t afford to rent [a dump truck]. … those other things, we were using to build back with. I was so upset. But he said, ‘I’m doing what my boss man told me to do.’ By the time I got back, they’d already picked it up. … I just don’t think it was right. There’s no way in the world we can pay y’all $2,700 now,” Allen said.
Later in the meeting, Commissioner Graham Stallings asked DeMent to estimate the value of the supplies picked up by the removal company. DeMent did not give a total figure, but said there were 180 concrete blocks, which he was selling for $5 a block, plus some pieces of tin and old lumber he was using.
Commissioner Catherine Redd apologized for what the family had been through, but also said the town was following proper procedure.
“This building has been dilapi-dated for a long time. … We’ve discussed how we don’t want to have to do this. But the town has to move forward,” Redd said. “And it can’t move forward with junk outside, trash outside and broken windows.
“As much as I feel very, very apologetic for what happened, it happened in the right order. We sent letters saying it was coming — we discussed how it was coming.
“It stinks. There’s no other word for it. But it did happen, and it happened in the right order. The town really did the right thing here,” Redd said.
Police department gets car
In other news, commissioners:
•approved the purchase of a patrol vehicle for the police department, securing a five-year loan from Union Bank at 3.4 percent interest. The total cost of the vehicle, with interest, will be $26,280.
•approved a request from Parks and Recreation Director Pete Gibson for $3,500 from the Parks and Recreation fund balance, which is completely funded by parks and recreation programs and not by taxpayer funds. $3,000 will be used by the Youngsville Red All-Stars, a coach-pitch team of 7- and 8-year-olds headed to the Dixie Youth World Series in Texarkana, Ark., this weekend. It is the first time a Franklin County team has ever made it this far, but the estimated cost of the trip, $18,000 to $20,000, was a challenge, Gibson said. Johnson recused himself from the vote because he is one of the coaches for the All-Stars.
•set a public hearing for Hampton Downs of Youngsville LLC and Hurt Investments LLC to rezone two tracts of land between Wolfpack Lane and Park Avenue from mixed use (MU) to residential single and multi-family (RSM). The two tracts are about 17 acres, together. The planning board will review the application at its Aug. 4 meeting.