Saluda Commissioners give resident last chance on burned house cleanup

Published 10:00 pm Monday, February 16, 2015

The City of Saluda has given Bill Lanier until March 21 to remove non-functioning equipment from his property on Greenville Street. Lanier’s house burned and the city has been discussing clean up with Lanier for approximately 18 months. Lanier is attempting to salvage some of the home to rebuild.  (Photo by Leah Justice)

The City of Saluda has given Bill Lanier until March 21 to remove non-functioning equipment from his property on Greenville Street. Lanier’s house burned and the city hasbeen discussing clean up with Lanier for approximately 18 months. Lanier is attemptingto salvage some of the home to rebuild. (Photo by Leah Justice)

After 18 months, the City of Saluda has given resident Bill Lanier until March 21 to clean up his Greenville Street property or the city will enact its ordinance to condemn and remove it.

Lanier’s house partially burned and the city has been giving him time to salvage the home. Although some progress has been made, commissioners have said every month certain items need to be taken care of and non-running vehicles in the yard have still not been removed.

Lanier said he has sold a camper in the yard, but the buyer has not yet picked it up. He also said he plans to sell other equipment in the yard at an auction in Inman, S.C. on March 21.

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Saluda City Council met Feb. 9 and approved giving Lanier until March 21 to make improvements, including removing the camper, the track hoe, trailers, bulldozers and a Ford truck. No new equipment is to be moved on the site unless it is specifically for construction or demolition purposes. All debris is to be removed from the font of the home and Lanier was ordered to stop burning demolition debris unless he has a permit. If the items are not in compliance by March 21, Saluda will enact its demolition ordinance and will order the city housing inspector to spend $8,275 or less to remove the property.

Saluda Zoning Administrator Jonathan Cannon said at the last meeting commissioners discussed the removal of the equipment and items in the front yard. Cannon said he provided a letter to Lanier regarding what commissioners expected. He said he took pictures on Feb. 5 and as commissioners could see the items have not yet been removed. Cannon did, however, say the brick walls of the home are now down.

Lanier responded that he has a business license and is grandfathered in on the equipment he has on the property.

“I have nowhere else to put it,” Lanier said. “I still have my license so I’ve left the equipment where it is.”

Lanier also said the camper has been sold, but the new owner has not come to get it yet. He said if the new owner does not come and get it, he plans to knock it down and give the purchaser his money back.

He said he’s worked on the house and realizes it’s in the agreement with the city to take the roof off the garage and he intends to take that off as soon as he can.

At previous meetings, Lanier has told commissioners of money constraints and has had one man working for him to demolish the parts of the house that are not salvageable.

Commissioner Lynn Cass said it’s been 17 months since the house burned and the city has been giving Lanier another month and another month. The city asked Lanier in December to make the property presentable and last month the city said if the equipment and trash were not removed by the February meeting, commissioners were going to call for the ordinance.

“I’m sorry but I think we’ve given you plenty of time,” Cass said.

One audience member said this started 18 months ago and nothing has happened. He said residents live in the city because they want water, sewer and police protection and they pay a hefty tax. Residents also have a great expectation of commissioners to use its ordinances to protect property values. He said the city has been most generous to Lanier and nothing really has happened. He said the city needs to move on and time for excuses after 18 months has long passed.

Cass said in the city’s letters to Lanier the dump truck was supposed to be emptied every week.

Lanier said he cannot drive the dump truck and has been looking for someone who is able to drive it.

Cass motioned for the city to enact its ordinance and for the city to remove the items.

Commissioner Carolyn Ashburn said she would like to give Lanier until March 21 until he can sell the equipment at auction, but “that’s it. Nothing else.”

“I feel like he does have a plan but I will be heartless come April,” Ashburn said.

Commissioner Leon Morgan agreed, saying he will give Lanier until March 21 and if he doesn’t have the items removed by then, the city should enact its ordinance.

Cass said her motion still stands. She said she can’t count on the action items being done before the deadline. Cass’ motion was voted down by other commissioners.

Mayor Fred Baisden said if Lanier removes the property Lanier will pay for the removal, and if not the city will pay to have it removed, then put a lien on the property to recoup the money the city spent.

Resident Ellen Rogers said Lanier is a working man and the city is asking him to do what it wants because it doesn’t sit well for the city’s aesthetics.

“That doesn’t represent all of Saluda,” Rogers said.

Resident Sunny Pace from the audience said, “She’s right.”

Cass responded it’s commissioners’ jobs to look after the city and it’s been 18 months since they began talking about the property.

Pace asked if the city can make Lanier not park his truck on his lot.

Baisden said vehicles that do not run are classified as junk vehicles and can be removed according to the city’s junk vehicle ordinance.

City attorney Bailey Nager said Lanier can continue to leave the vehicles on the property until the city goes through the junk vehicle ordinance process, which it has not yet done.

Commissioners agreed to begin the junk vehicle ordinance process in the meantime, so if Lanier does not remove the equipment by March 21 the city can have the equipment removed.