Drug and other concerns swirling around a house in Mount Airy will be addressed during a meeting of the city council Thursday afternoon.
The site in question, located at 141 W. Poplar St., is a small rental home owned by Bray Properties, LLC, in Mount Airy.
Nearby residents who previously complained about conditions at another rental property on West Lebanon Street, owned by a different party, more recently have focused their attention on the Poplar Street structure.
This intensified after a couple living at the home were charged with felony narcotics violations involving cocaine, including maintaining a drug dwelling, on Dec. 1. This resulted from a search warrant executed there by members of the Mount Airy Police Department, Surry County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation.
In addition to the drug issue, neighboring property owners in the area have complained about the appearance of the West Poplar Street site and “general-nuisance-type concerns” surrounding it, according to Police Chief Dale Watson.
Watson, along with city Codes Enforcement Officer Bill Beamer, will update the situation at a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners on Thursday at 2 p.m. That presentation will pertain to minimum-housing regulations.
State intervention questioned
The neighborhood concerns have led to recent appeals to outside agencies including the State Bureau of Investigation and its Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) branch.
“Maybe with the help of ALE we can get something done with these properties …” a complaining individual recently explained regarding this contact.
However, one of the objectives of Thursday’s presentation by the police chief and codes enforcement officer involves reassuring the concerned parties that sufficient resources exist locally to address any legitimate public safety or related problems that arise.
“We have the means,” the police chief said, and the capabilities to address those. When residents are compelled to contact an outside organization regarding some issue, there is an implication that they believe in-city agencies are handling it inadequately, which he countered:
“The response is, we haven’t met thresholds for any formalized action that is requested by those residents,” Watson said.
Minimum-housing regulations in particular prescribe a lengthy process to address complaints about a particular location, which includes formal notifications, a hearing procedure and giving the property owner time to come into compliance.
Those guidelines are aimed at respecting private property ownership rights along with mitigating public safety or other threats raised by complainants, with demolition a last resort.
The police chief indicated Tuesday that due process has occurred regarding the house at 141 W. Poplar St.
“Here recently there have been measures to remedy the things that are taking place there, particularly the outside appearance of the residence,” he said.
Additional items on the agenda for Thursday afternoon’s meeting include:
• The awarding of a contract to Landmark Preservation Associates of Lexington, Virginia, to update a city architectural survey to document older local homes. Mount Airy earlier received an $18,000 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to fund the effort, which is requiring a $12,000 match in local funds for a $30,000 total needed to complete the project.
• A discussion on the annual Mount Airy Fire Department report for 2017.
• A quarterly update by Jessica Roberts, local tourism coordinator.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.