The Reidsville City Council meeting on March 14, 2022, was calm… until it wasn’t.
Citizens and council members began talking over one another and arguing during the time for public comments in regard to a parcel on North Main Street in violation of the city ordinance.
Councilwoman Lindsay Bennett brought the subject to the council at the end of the meeting, with this discussion lasting 30 minutes. She began by reading section 40-269 of Reidsville’s Code of Ordinances.
The code states, “Except for group development, only one principal building in its permitted customary accessory buildings may hereafter be erected or located on any one lot.”
‘Accessory structure’ means a detached subordinate building or structure located on the same site as the dwelling for which it serves. This is not the same as a mobile home (‘trailer’).
The ordinance was adopted in 2012, so any additional properties on one piece of land before then were grandfathered in together. In addition, once a mobile home is moved from a property, another mobile home cannot be moved onto that same property in the City of Reidsville.
165 N Main Street
The property at 165 N Main Street is the one in violation. The resident of the newest installed trailer was issued a permit to move in a mobile home earlier this year by Reidsville Building Inspector Ronney Willis, who has worked in this capacity for the City for six years. However, this permit should never have been issued.
Bennett questioned City Attorney DuAnn Cowart-Davis regarding the matter.
Bennett: “There is one house there, and we have put another house there. This is a violation of our code. How did that happen?”
Cowart-Davis: “I do not know how that happened.”
Bennett: “What are we going to do to fix it? How was a permit given to do that?”
Cowart-Davis: “Well, I do not personally supervise the permits, so I cannot tell you. Should it have been done? Probably not.”
Bennett: “I understand that, but we are in complete violation of our ordinance. We need to talk about this, because we have put it on hold for one month.”
The property is zoned as an R2 (single family residential), but the issue is not with the zoning of the property. The issue is that these additional structures violate the city code.
Vickie Nail with the Zoning Committee said that this issue was not presented before them.
“This issue did not come before the zoning committee,” Nail said. “I actually saw the [second] trailer there and reported it right away. There are actually two trailers on that property.”
Nail also mentioned that she went to the tax commissioner's office and asked if these trailers were allowed on the property, and she was told that they should not be there.
The zoning committee has to address both trailers on this lot, even though the public is mainly complaining about the most recently installed trailer, according to Nail. She also pointed out that the owner has a large home on that property, which is considered her ‘primary dwelling’.
“It is not ok the way I look at it… she has a primary dwelling,” Nail said. “And there are these two trailers on this one property that should not be there. I do not know if there was a permit issued for the first trailer, but now we have two trailers on this property in addition to her home.”
The council concluded that the resident has two options — move the trailers or apply for two separate variances for the trailers on the property. If she files the variance and it is approved by the zoning committee, it will then be presented before the council to vote on.
Bennett made a motion to stop work and halt any water and sewer services from being installed until the City is sure of how to handle this situation. Councilwoman Carolyn Crume-Blackshear seconded the motion.
“Our ordinance is saying one thing, and we have got to go by that. We are in violation, and we do not need to do any more work on this until we figure this out,” Bennett said.
Cowart-Davis said that she would investigate this issue further.
A neighbor, WB Crosby of 195 N Main Street, requested to comment on this issue. His concern was that the second trailer was not in a good condition.
He also had an issue with there being two empty trailers on the property, both which could be rented out by the property owner if they stay there illegally.
“She can apply for a variance, but what stops her from turning it into a rental property? Then we will have a bunch of other variances being filed for other rental properties. No, I am opposed to this,” Crosby said.
Citizen Reka Strickland requested that the terms ‘principle main dwelling’ or ‘primary residence’ be used with consideration to the property owner’s living situation. She said she would like for this matter to be handled with respect to the individuals who live there.
Crume-Blackshear agreed that this issue should be handled with care and with respect to the people living on these properties. She did, however, say that there are many additional properties in the City of Reidsville that are in violation of city code. She said that if we are going to enforce this to one property, then we must enforce it to all properties which have been in violation since 2012.
Citizen Earnest Armstrong commented on the abundance of properties in Reidsville which are in violation of this ordinance.
“I think the only issue that is going to come up is that once you start correcting, people are going to want you to correct everyone in this city. If you did it to me, I would want you to do it to others,” Armstrong said.
The next Reidsville City Council meeting will be held at its regular time on the second Monday of the month, April 11, 2022, at 5 p.m. at City Hall.