Saturday, November 17, 2012

City to Buy Ice Plant Property

In response the continuing problems at the Ice Plant on Riverside Drive, the City of Asheville is moving forward to purchase the building, with a promise to secure it as soon as possible.  This is a very positive development for the neighborhood and we appreciate the city's leadership in addressing this problem.  See below for the city's response to our request for action as well as additional details about these developments.  Additionally, the local press has picked it up, with a story from News 13 and a write-up in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear WECAN, RADBA, RADA members,

Thank you for reaching out to City Council and staff to share your concerns about the Ice House property.  Please know we are working across departments and coordinating efforts to address concerns about the structure itself, people illegally living in the structure and violence or criminal activity happening around the property.  I hope this update gives you confidence the city takes the safety of this property and surrounding properties seriously.

With respect to the structure, the city recently acquired an option to purchase the property.  We are negotiating with the current owners, and approaching what we hope will be a closing date.  Whatever the outcome of the real estate transaction, we are confident the property will be secured as soon as possible.  If the purchase goes through, the City, as the owner, will evaluate every option, including demolition, to make sure the property is safe.

In the interim, the police department will continue to work closely with resource providers involved with the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative.  Early last week, they again went to the building and people illegally living in the building were given a seven day notice to vacate the premises and were introduced to service providers who can be good resources for the transition.  We were successful in finding alternative shelter for nearly a dozen people, but we realize there are many transients who also occupy the structure.  Officers followed up again Monday morning and found no one occupying the building.

Police officers will also continue increased patrols in the area.  The more information they have, the better they can do their jobs.  If you see or hear violence or other activity threatening to life or property, please call 911 immediately.  We are also encouraging the community to stay in touch with APD District Commander Lt. Jamee Crawford at 777-3607 and Community Resource Officers Evan Coward 777-4505 or Tyler Radford 545-8374 with the hopes the community will also continue to relay non-emergency safety concerns.

With respect to policies concerning deteriorated or dilapidated buildings, please see the attached response from Building Safety Director Robert Griffin.

In his email, he mentions a few ordinances and general statutes.  Here is a direct link to those items.

Minimum Housing Code (Section 4-217)

Unsafe Building Code (Section 4-180 to 4-190)

North Carolina General Statutes (160A-426 – through 160A-432)

Thank you all for taking interest in your community and your willingness to engage with your government.  I was unable to pull all addresses from the original email and would be grateful if this message were forwarded to anyone who may have been missed.  Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions.

All my best,

Dawa Hitch
City of Asheville
Public Information Officer
Community Relations Division Head
828.259.5981


From: "Robert Griffin" <rgriffin@ashevillenc.gov>
Date: November 15, 2012 5:09:37 PM EST
To: "Dawa Hitch" <DHitch@ashevillenc.gov>
Subject: Ice House


Dawa -  Here is the requested information on the Ice House and the process we follow for deteriorated or dilapidated buildings.

The City’s Minimum Housing Code (Section 4-217) and Unsafe Building Code (Sec. 4-180 to 4-190) details the process for structures that meet the definition of deteriorated or dilapidated buildings.  In addition, N.C.G.S.  160A-426 through 160A-432 outline a process for dilapidated structures.  The city’s legal department provides oversight and guidance of the process to ensure all legal requirements are followed, protecting all city residents by preventing an order from being overturned.
As a matter of practice, city staff works with property owners to resolve issues associated with deteriorated or dilapidated properties.  Currently, there are approximately 100 structures of residential and commercial property that have been identified as being open to the public and vacant, having structural deficiencies, or other unsafe conditions.  Structures are added to the list based on complaints from neighbors, public safety agencies, social services and visual observance by building inspectors.
When a building has compromised structural integrity, it is declared dilapidated, setting in motion the process outlined in the ordinances and statutes referenced above.   A building that is open and vacant is visited monthly by an inspector to verify the building maintains the posted indication as being unsafe, is secure, or no action has occurred.
With respect to the Ice House property, there has been ongoing contact with the owner about securing or demolishing the property.  At times, the property was secured at other times the condition of the property was further compromised by individuals stripping the building of materials such as copper, steel and other salvageable items.  When active discussions were taking place on potential purchase, the City did not pursue further actions due to the understanding that a new owner would purchase the property and immediately secure rehabilitation of the building or demolish for clean access to the property.
At this time, the city is under contract to purchase the property.  No matter the outcome, we have every expectation the property will be secured as soon as possible.  If the purchase goes through, the City, as the owner, will evaluate every option, including demolition, to make sure the property is safe.


Robert Griffin, Director
Development Services Department
City of Asheville
P.O. Box 7148
Asheville, NC 28802
(828) 259-5726 - Office
(828) 250-8814 - Fax
rgriffin@ashevillenc.gov
www.ashevillenc.gov

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