Rocky Mount Town Council amended its inoperable vehicle’s ordinance last June, and some things have improved but a drive throughout Franklin County reveals that vehicles rusting along the roads is actually a county-wide issue and so are dilapidated buildings.
Recently, the county worked with the owners of the former Franklin Manor, to finally get the decades-vacant building torn down, which is a step in the right direction. But, what about all the other eyesores along U.S. 220 and throughout the county?
Several properties within minutes of each other had more than one inoperable vehicle polluting the area’s beautiful terrain. We understand, it is challenging to tell people what they can and can’t have on their property, and the county code is loosely written in Chapter 12 nuisances “Each owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or person in charge of any real property within the county … is hereby charged with responsibility for the maintenance and use of such real property in such manner that no use of, or activity or condition upon or within, such real property shall constitute a nuisance. All buildings, bridges or other structures of whatever character kept or maintained,” and not be in “a condition unsafe, dangerous, unhealthy, injurious or annoying to the public.”
Look at what happened just last week to a dog running on his property and became trapped by an old abandoned vehicle. Luckily, his owners heard him howling and he was saved, but what if he hadn’t been rescued? What if that were a small child who had wandered off? Would people be more outraged at the amount of junk lying around the county then?
Property values recently increased across the county. An argument could be made that the government is losing money on these properties that are receiving low condition ratings. The county could collect more money if the properties weren’t allowed to decay. Yes, we know, no one likes high taxes, but look at it this way, you could have a smaller property that has a good rating and be paying more in taxes than a property that has 1,500 more square feet than you just because the larger property doesn’t have as good a condition rating as your home does. In essence, you are paying for their declining property because the government still needs funds to operate.
Also, Franklin County has been working hard to develop the Summit View Business Park. Yet across the street from SVBP sits a large (seemingly inoperable) building with the roof caving in, and rusting vehicles all over the property. If you were an investor looking around the area, would you want to build a shiny new building across from that?
Just north of Rocky Mount on U.S. 220 a PT Cruiser has been sitting for years by billboard. The vehicle now has a tree on top of it, making it even more unattractive.
There are countless examples like these across the county. We urge the town and the county to take a long hard look at the codes and to enforce the codes that are in place.