Foreclosure target

Vance County Commissioners have agreed to pursue a tax foreclosure of the former Henderson Laundry at 314 N. Chestnut St. The property is abandoned, and city officials would like to have any spilled chemicals cleaned up and the building itself removed.

HENDERSON — Vance County Commissioners decided this week to re-initiate the tax-foreclosure process on an abandoned dry cleaner’s that’s at the corner of Chestnut Street and Andrews Avenue.

The move comes with the understanding that Henderson’s city government will take ownership of the former Henderson Laundry once the foreclosure is complete, so it can work with the state on getting any spilled chemicals on the site cleaned up, County Manager Jordan McMillen said.

Acting on advice from their Properties Committee, the commissioners agreed to contribute up to $16,000 toward the cleanup effort, McMillen said, adding that one more round of consultation with city officials will come before the county moves ahead.

Tuesday’s decision came after county officials talked with their counterparts at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to gauge the possibility of the state agency taking on the project on its own.

They left that discussion with the impression that state action “would not occur quickly,” McMillen.

That left a tax foreclosure as the best option so a local government, as the building’s owner, can take the lead in applying for cleanup subsidies from DEQ’s Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program.

County commissioners had been wary of foreclosing on the property because of the prospective costs of removing chemicals from the site. Dry cleaning uses an array of organic chemicals known to or suspected of causing health problems in humans.

Foreclosure has been the city government’s preferred option for some time, with Henderson Mayor Eddie Ellington in July saying the situation demands “a little less conversation, a lot more action.”

Ellington welcomed word of Tuesday’s decision by county leaders.

“This is a long overdue first step as we move towards cleaning up the corner of Andrews Avenue and Chestnut Street,” he said. “And to think it sits a block away from both government offices. The appearance of our community, especially main thoroughfares, should always be on top of the list.”

He added that City Manager Terrell Blackmon “has done the research on what is needed” to get the property into the Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act Program.

The laundry, at 314 N. Chestnut St., has been derelict for many years. While it remains in private hands, it’s been through the estate process following the death of a former owner. The last time anyone paid property taxes on it was October 2010.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.