Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Town crews began demolition of a dilapidated home on Hillcrest Avenue on Monday morning, and neighbors gathered to watch and express their appreciation. 

“I just want to thank the town crews for sticking with this and for taking care of the house on Hillcrest Avenue,” said Heather Shields, who lives next to a home that has been abandoned for some time. Shields attended the Franklin Town Council meeting Monday night to show her appreciation. “We really appreciate everything you have done to see this matter through.” 

In June 2017, the Franklin Town Council voted to demolish three properties within the city limits, with Hillcrest Avenue being one of them. By statute, the town is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the town and its citizens and the town’s minimum housing code permits the investigation of dwellings that do not meet that standard. After following all the legal proceedings to address the condition of the home on Hillcrest Avenue, demolition crews began the process to clean up the property and remove the house this week. 

The structure, located at 76 Hillcrest Avenue, has not been lived in for more than five years. The structure hasn’t had any power or running water for some time now. An uninspected septic system without a drainage system was installed on the property causing significant issues. The structure had extensive fire damage to the roof and roof joists which the property owner has tried to cover up with paneling. There were no windows in the house, just plastic over the windows. 

There were holes in the floor of the main level of the structure, and a large amount of trash and debris around the home that made the area a breeding ground for rodents, insects, and infestation. The property had four, 55 gallon barrels that are used for the open storage of kerosene heating oil. The chimney had fallen off of the structure. The property owner had built a new structure onto the front of the structure without permits and not to N.C. building codes. Exposed wiring could be seen from the panel box in the new portion of the structure. Macon County tax office had the building value of the property listed as $0.00. Macon County Building Inspections had stated that the power would not be restored to the structure until the structure was brought up to the NC Building Code standards. The owner of the property is listed as Joyce Ann Meeks, Life Estates. The value of the property was listed as $46,710.

If the town receives a complaint from five or more citizens, the town can hold a hearing and allow the owners of the dwellings the opportunity to update the property and meet the town’s code or to demolish the property. Public hearings were scheduled for other properties on Monday night, with no one signing up to argue the town’s motion to demolish the structures. Under the town’s ordinance, the town will now secure an enforceable order of the Superior Court to effect the demolition of the structures. After the structures are demolished, the town will then attempt to collect the cost of the demolition from the property owners.