County will pay to demolish four Newsoms homes

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday voted 5-1 to spend $27,550 to tear down four dilapidated homes in the Newsoms area.

Berlin-Ivor District Supervisor Ronald West voted “no” because he is concerned that other property owners who can no longer afford the upkeep on their homes may depend on the county to clean them up.

“In Ivor, there are two to three large homes that are ready to fall down,” West said.

The four homes are in a 600-foot stretch of Thomaston Road, which runs parallel to General Thomas Highway between Franklin and Newsoms. The owners have basically abandoned the properties and the homes are in disrepair. The homes present a danger.

“Notices were sent to the respective owners of all four properties seeking their cooperation in repairing, securing or removing the structures,” said County Administrator Mike Johnson. “All have failed to address the issues.”

Owners, according to county tax records, are:

■ Mary Falkins of Portsmouth, whose property taxes are current

■ Ora Whitfield of 17402 Pittman, Boykins, whose property taxes are seven years in arrears. Whitfield has been turned over to a collection agent.

■ Anita Cutler of Norfolk, whose property taxes are four years in arrears. Cutler has been turned over to a collection agent.

■ Elmo Harris of Somerset, N.J., whose taxes are current.

Newsoms District Supervisor Walt Brown believes the homes need to be demolished.

“In my perspective, this is blight,” Brown said.

Johnson noted the county can place liens on the properties, which means they could not be sold until the cleanup bills are paid.

“There’s a lot of other homes in all areas of Southampton County,” said Jerusalem District Supervisor Anita Felts. “Is it going to mushroom out of control? This is going to end up being $27,000. Where is the money coming from?”

Johnson said it would come from the general fund.