Abandoned property causing trouble in Winston-Salem neighborhood

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — An abandoned property is causing trouble in one Triad neighborhood. The property is overflowing with vehicles that have been dumped there, including a rusted school bus and a trailer.

“We’re looking at vehicles that have been parked here for years,” said Judith Williams-Berrier, whose parents have lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years.

“My neighbor over here can sit in her kitchen door and see all those things behind there that we can’t see here: a big old trailer, a school bus that is solid rust from one end to the other,” said Judy Flippin, who has lived across from the property on Glenn Hi Road for 55 years.

Flippin says she worries about the Glenn High School students who walk past daily. The school is less than a half-mile away.

“Some of kids have to walk past this location and we’ve seen animals come out of it. A fox, a skunk, all kinds of things,” Flippin said.

And Williams-Berrier worries about the environmental impact.

“Just think about the fluids with the rains we’ve had and the snows we’ve had, you’re going to have leakage into the ground and water system,” she said.

This neighborhood became part of the city of Winston-Salem some years ago. Neighbors have called the city numerous times to get someone to make the owners clean up.

“We’re exhausted,” Williams-Berrier said. “We’ve exhausted our resources when we call one department, we get handed to another and this one doesn’t know what the other one had.”

So, they asked FOX8 for help. The city confirms 18 customer service requests related to the property just since the beginning of 2017.

Neighbors say they’ve seen the city put warning signs up on the property, but those signs are gone the next day and then nothing happens.

The city attorney’s office tells us they took the owners -- Michael and Audrey Smith -- to court in 2011. And in 2012, they agreed to pay $4,700 in civil penalties. The Smiths complied then. But now we're back at square one.

“You should have to abide by the city codes,” Williams-Berrier said.

The property was previously used as a motor vehicle storage yard. It was grandfathered into the city for that use. That means the owners didn’t have to follow the city’s zoning rules as long as they used it for that purpose.

The city says there’s no evidence that has happened.

After FOX8 pressed the issue, a city inspector checked the property out. The result was four notices of violation giving them five days to clean up or be charged $100 per day.

We called the number listed for the Smiths to find out why they’re not taking care of their property. They did not call back. So, we went to the address listed for them. No answer.

“We’d love to see it cleaned up. One way or another, however it’s best done,” Williams-Berrier said.

The Smiths could also face a misdemeanor charge if they don’t get the property up to code.

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