The Reidsville City Council passed a revision of their city ordinance regarding one principal building on a lot, at their July 20, 2022, called meeting. This revision allows any current projects regarding subdivisions with existing (as of July 20) permits or surveys to move forward with building.
The vote was 3-2, with the two opposed council members being Donald Prestage and Lindsay Bennett. Council members Verdie Williams, Carolyn Crume-Blackshear, and Mayor Curtis Colwell approved this revision. Councilman Doug Williams was not present at the meeting.
The original code (Sec. 40-269. - One principal building on a lot) 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.”
The revision reads: “The City [shall] allow building to go forward on any projects for subdivisions which have existing approved surveys or permits issued as of July 20, 2022. All future buildings of subdivisions with be required to strictly follow the code.”
The topic of subdivisions in the City of Reidsville has been an agenda item since February 2022.
There are several properties which violate City Code, but these properties now have permission to move forward with development if they currently have an approved survey or permit. This includes the property at 165 N Main Street, often referred to as the Bass Property. This property has three principal buildings on the lot (one brick home and two mobile homes). Citizens Wallace and Celeste Crosby, who reside behind 165 N Main Street, have complained about this property and others at several council meetings.
“It is so disheartening to see the way the council handled this situation,” Mrs. Crosby said. “This is the way corrupt governments work. Are they going to continue allowing trailers and other home on pieces of property? Where does the corruption stop?”
The couple has lived in Reidsville since 2013, and they wished they had gotten involved in city matters earlier. It is their hope that one day, someone will walk into City Hall and clean house.
“This is not the way councilmembers should act in order to get our votes,” Mr. Crosby said.
While the Crosbys and several other citizens did not know about the called meeting, the City followed the Open Meetings Act by posting the meeting time and location on their doors and notifying The Journal Sentinel within 24 hours of the meeting.
At the meeting, the council directly addressed a property owned by Lew Graham, who was one of two citizens in attendance. The property on the corner of Anderson Street and Highway 280 is owned by Graham, who has hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into it and promised the unbuilt home to a buyer who was ready to move in during the month of September 2022.
“If I would have known about this code, I would have never started building,” Graham said. “I am in a mess here and it is not my doing. I am not upset with any of [the council members], but I need to know whether I can keep building or not.”
Prestage requested a list of properties that would be affected by this vote. He and Bennett spoke openly with Graham about the Code and why they were not able to vote yes on this revision.
“It is not that we want you to not build,” Prestage said.
“We just have to honor our city’s code, and I can’t do for you what I haven’t done for others,” Bennett said.
Graham and all of the council members agreed that they want to see the city grow and improve, and the council has agreed to make it their priority to correct the City’s Code. Much of the Code is outdated or could be worded better, they admit.
“There have been a lot of things that need correcting,” Verdie said in reference to the City’s codes.
The current Code of the City can be accessed on Municode here.
The next planning session for the City of Reidsville with be held on Monday, August 1, at 5 p.m. (every first Monday of the month). The regularly scheduled council meeting with be held on Monday, August 8, at 5 p.m. (every second Monday of the month). These meetings are open to the public and are held in the council chambers at City Hall.
Special or emergency meeting that are not held at the regularly posted time and place require more rigorous notice procedures. At least 24 hours in advance, notice must be posted at the regular meeting place and oral notification must be provided to the newspaper that serves as the legal organ for the county, according to Sunshine Laws.
Minutes of all public meeting must be kept in writing and made available to the public for inspection no later than immediately following the next regular agency meeting. These minutes are subject to the Open Records Act after approval, unless voluntarily released before approval.