Improving the appearance of Laurinburg was the theme of this week’s meeting of the City Council, during which several dilapidated properties were condemned.
Also during the meeting, the board agreed to permit billboard placement within the city, but only on a very restricted basis,” said City Manager Ed Burchins.
“It has been a goal to move more quickly in tearing down unsafe structures and trying to improve the appearance, health and safety of neighborhoods,” said Burchins of the three condemnations agreed to by the council.
According to Burchins, the council voted two years ago to designate additional funds for the condemning of structures.
“They also changed their ordinances to allow us to move more quickly,” Burchins said.
“Before we had situations where we were ready to condemn a property then someone would pass away before signing a required document, and we would be forced to restart the entire process.”
Following ordinance changes by the council, Burchins said that “now we can avoid having to go back to the start of the process when there are issues.”
In addition to improving property values, destroying and cleaning up buildings in disuse stops “problems with people going in to the buildings to do drugs and play in the houses.”
“It is dangerous, and someone could be hurt,” Burchins said. “Or the structure could catch fire close to other homes. It’s just a responsibility we have to public safety.”
Thanks to the ordinance adjustments and to the increased funding, Burchins said that there has been an uptick in the number of condemned properties over the past two years.
“In the past two years it is possible that we have done more than in the last eight to 10 years.”
Continuing its careful management of the city’s appearance, the council also agreed to allow billboards in certain areas around Laurinburg.
Following several inquiries from business owners and outside interests, the council agreed to permit billboards to be constructed, but only after they complete a rigorous approval process.
“They may only be placed outside of 2000-ft. of other billboards, and only after they go through a very strict series of application steps with the city council,” Burchins said.
The city council has speculated that less than ten new billboards would be allowed in the city considering the distance restriction.
“We want to maintain the integrity of the appearance of Laurinburg,” Burchins said.
Also during the meeting, the board agreed to host a public hearing on August 21 to discuss allowing tattoo parlors in the city’s central business district, an area which includes downtown.