Ronda Town Hall was packed Monday night for a public hearing on a long-considered nuisance property ordinance.
Mayor Victor Varela and Ronda commissioners listened to citizens’ views on the ordinance, but made no comments. Varela said Tuesday that the ordinance will likely be on the agenda for Ronda’s regular board meeting on Nov. 12. A work session will be held Nov. 7.
The nuisance property ordinance and other ordinances, a point of contention in Ronda, have been periodically taken up and tabled by the board for more than five years.
Bobby Munsey, one of several Ronda residents who signed up before the meeting to speak, said abandoned and neglected homes pose health and safety issues for neighbors and drive down home values. “This has been an ongoing problem for several years,” Munsey said, adding that he favors the ordinance and wants the board to pass it.
“I’m all for this ordinance,” said Wanda Blackburn. She said Ronda citizens should be required to keep their properties in good shape. Blackburn also said she wants the town to do a better job at mowing the shoulders of its roads and cleaning ditches.
Shirley Baker, speaking in favor of the ordinance, said “rats and snakes (have been) running rampant” on one property. She said this same property has attracted people who are selling illegal drugs. “It needs to be stopped,” she said.
Kevin Reece, a former Ronda commissioner who has steadfastly opposed the nuisance property ordinance, said that illegal drug activity should be reported to the Wilkes Sheriff’s Office. He also said that some of the very people concerned about drug activity in the town have themselves “been raided for drugs.”
Residents concerned about drug activity at a dilapidated rental home on Main Street have nothing to worry about he said, maintaining that law enforcement has been alerted and the property has been cleaned up. He thanked David Royal, husband of Commissioner JoAnn Royal, for cleaning up the property.
Reece said he is concerned that the ordinance would be used by some board members “to target citizens” with whom they have disagreements. “There are commissioners in this room right now who have made (such) threats,” he said. “How many times has this been voted down? Enough is enough.”
Commissioners attending the meeting were Royal, Sandra Simmons and Kay Luffman. Not present were commissioners Manuel Wood and Helen Porter.
Debbie Roarke said, “When I bought my property, I bought it to have what I want on it.” She said the condition of her property is no one else’s business.
Her husband, Ivan Roarke, said his employers at Carolina Machine and Welding authorized him to say they are opposed to the ordinance. He said the company has barrels of scrap metal and other items and don’t want to be potentially sanctioned by the town.
Deborah Goldman, Reece’s girlfriend and also a former Ronda commissioner, said she moved to the town from Raleigh because “people were allowed to do what they wanted to do on their own properties.” She said neighborhood home owner association regulations made living in Raleigh difficult.
She accused town commissioners of now following their own ordinances, such as a leash law. “I’m vehemently opposed” to the property ordinance, Goldman said.
The proposed nuisance property ordinance was written by Ronda consultant Ron Niland and shown to the board during a meeting in early October.
The stated purpose of the ordinance is “to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the town, as authorized by part 6 of article 11, chapter 160A of the general statutes of North Carolina (by establishing) minimum standards of cleanliness of properties. These would include properties that pose a threat to the public health, safety, general welfare and property values of the citizens of the Town of Ronda and such conditions, if not corrected, (that) can lead to harm.”