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Ask Matt ... what can be done about eyesore

Code enforcement regulations don't apply to abandoned house. Code enforcement regulations don't apply to abandoned house.

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Q. When will that vacant house on Signal Hill Road be torn down? What can be done to have the place cleaned up?

Good questions but few good answers. The dilapidated house on the corner of Clear Creek Road and Signal Hill Road falls within Henderson County's jurisdiction. I looked at three possible remedies under state and local laws. The County has a minimum housing ordinance on the books but this law only protects renters and since the structure is vacant, complainants have no standing.
Option two would be to ask county officials if it violates their Nuisance Ordinance. This law, for the most part, addresses items such as solid waste, abandoned cars and junked mobile homes but not structures. And since the overgrown property is not a business the junkyard ordinance does not apply.
A third option is to report a violation to the Henderson County Health Department. They can enforce a broadly written state law that defines public health nuisances. In legalese, the nuisance must "substantially and unreasonably interfere with the health of the public." Examples would be a leaking oil tank or the likelihood of the structure collapsing over the roadside, but a growing patch of poison ivy or a family of black snakes holed up under the house may not meet the nuisance test.
Of course, a fourth option would be to make the owners an offer they can't refuse. I spoke to Larry Holbert, one of the owners of the corner lot. Holbert has no immediate plans for the property and is waiting for the vacant "triangle lot" across the street to sell and develop. He said his lot might be a good site for a hot dog stand.
Back to junkyards. Another reader asked about the junkyard at 212 Mills Street in East Flat Rock near the Armory. The property owned by Neal Jackson contains a wall-to-wall collection of junk material. If you need an old rusty metal dumpster, this is your place. According to officials with our County's Code Enforcement Department, the junkyard is legal but non-conforming to existing zoning. In other words, it can exist but not expand. The County took Jackson to court some time ago in an attempt to prove a nuisance violation but the court found otherwise. There are probably 10 non-conforming junkyards within the county's jurisdiction but no new ones have been permitted in the last 10 years.

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I recently wrote about local banks that had kept their name the longest and I tagged First Citizens Bank as the oldest. Still true, but the bank has had a presence on Main Street since 1972, almost 20 years longer than my article stated. Also, Carolina Alliance Bank, also on Main Street, was previously Forest Commercial Bank in Asheville. Carolina Alliance has branches in North and South Carolina.

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Send questions to askmattm@gmail.com.