Farmwood, Tarawoods residents urge action for problem properties
by Kara Lopp
Patrick Heffernan says he and his neighbors in Mint Hill’s Farmwood subdivision have been patient.
But more than two years after a fire severely damaged a house at 7200 Pine Lake Lane off Lebanon Road, the house remains virtually untouched. The windows are boarded up and a ripped blue tarp covers part of the collapsed roof, though the gaping hole is evident to passersby. An “unsafe building” sign from the Mecklenburg County Fire Marshal’s office is still attached to the door.
Heffernan, a 38-year Mint Hill resident, joined other concerned citizens at a Mint Hill commissioners meeting Thursday, June 14 where officials approved new measures to handle vacant and abandoned properties in town that have fallen into major disrepair. Last year, Heffernan presented a petition with 44 signatures to town commissioners urging officials to force owners Jiten and Asha Pandya to tear down the house. Attempts to reach the Pandyas were unsuccessful.
The ordinance amendment allows town officials to place property owners on a 12-month time clock if repairs aren’t made or the building is demolished. If the owner doesn’t comply within one year, town commissioners can adopt an ordinance giving the owner up to 90 additional days to comply or the town will pay for the building to be repaired or demolished and place a tax lien on the property.
Henry Hartz, who lives across the street from the Pine Lake house, told commissioners June 14 something needs to be done. Residents in the Tarawoods neighborhood off Matthews-Mint Hill Road also have expressed concern about a problem property in their neightborhood.
“We’re somewhat devastated that we can’t do something to correct that problem,” Hartz said. “Every time we think something’s moving forward, we go four steps backward.”
Mecklenburg County handles all building code inspections for Mint Hill and inspected the property last May, Margie Nichols, Mint Hill’s code enforcement officer, said. But the house, though it has structural damage, didn’t qualify for demolition, she said. During last year’s inspection, County Inspector Ron Featherstone told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly that he found “structural damage to the roof and some of the walls as well as fire damage to the wiring system, bathrooms and kitchen” but the floors were “structurally sound and show no signs of fire damage,” meaning that the house didn’t qualify for demolition. Featherstone couldn’t get into the basement because it was blocked by construction materials like paint, floor coverings and more. County inspectors are due to make another inspection soon, Nichols said.