Tryon’s Eastside blight rears head again at council meeting

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, November 30, 2017

TRYON-Eastside Citizen Advisory Committee member Dr. Warren Carson asked Tryon Town Council this month how many more dilapidated houses in the community have to be identified before the point finally gets across and something gets done.

Carson spoke during citizen comments saying he’s looked back at Tryon Daily Bulletin articles as far back as 2003 and articles have mentioned some of the same properties in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

“Some of them are still there,” Carson said.

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Carson asked how many more meetings, town managers, council persons, different reasons and excuses have to be made before something is done.

“How long will the residents of the Eastside have to live with the blight?” Carson asked.

Carson asked how are the residents supposed to beautify their community when they are overwhelmed with blight?

The houses are not livable and haven’t been for years, Carson said, and “if you think that the kudzu looks bad, try viewing it without the kudzu.”

“It’s deadening,” Carson said. “It’s deadening to anyone who lives there. When the trash blows off, they just leave it there because the place is already trashed.”

Carson said he knows that money is short, but there are creative ways to address some of the serious properties that have been in a dilapidated state since at least the 1990s.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said the town has torn down 8-10 houses in his tenure. He said the town is trying to get Habitat for Humanity to come in.

“Would I want to live here, no,” Peoples said. “I can tell you we’ll get there. Not as fast as you want, not as fast as I want, but we’ll get there.”

Commissioner Crys Armbrust said kudzu and abandoned houses are a problem in the community and mentioned a property on Melrose Ext. that looks exactly like the one Carson pointed out.

“This is private property and we’re tying up significant amounts of money on private property projects,” Armbrust said.

He asked how much the town has spent on tearing down dilapidated housing.

Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said the town this fiscal year placed $15,000 in the budget for dilapidated housing.

Armbrust asked how much the town has spent over the last 10 years.

“I suspect that number is significant,” said Armbrust. “How much has the town been able to get back into the public coffers? Probably none.”

Armbrust said this is a daunting issue and one we will have to derive together.

“So how long will it take us to derive that together?” asked Carson.

Peoples said the town is looking at probably $50,000 to tear houses down and the town will probably never get that back.

Carson said he’s not convinced that the town tearing down the properties is the only way to rid the community of these houses.

“Put some teeth in your ordinances and make people who walk off and leave these properties pay the price,” Carson suggested. “It does take some creative approaches. The residents can’t be expected to do that by themselves.”

Armbrust said another concern is when the town runs into asbestos the number of houses the town can address lessens because of the costs. He said that is not to say the town can’t budget more in the next fiscal year and that will certainly be part of the discussion.