Spring Lake wants a spruce

SPRING LAKE Resident Buddy Wilson has lived in Spring Lake 16 years. He says he takes a lot of pride in his yard and home.

"I want to keep it looking nice," he said.

But as in other communities, there is urban blight. Some homes are dilapidated, or in disrepair. Some just need painting, while others, town officials say, need to be torn down.

Officials say about 40 percent of the homes are in some state of disrepair.

Town Alderman Richard Higgins lives across the street from a home that's been vacant for five years. He says it is not the image he wants incoming military families to see.

"I want to project an image, people come and they see a nice place to live," Higgins said. "They are comfortable. We got some beauty around here and it's not trash."

Monday night, Higgins and his fellow alderman approved two new ordinances they say will help improve the town's image.

The first is a new building code that regulates properties deemed unsafe to the public. The second forces owners to repair their property or the structure could be demolished.

The police chief says that will help fight crime too.

"Abandoned buildings, sometimes there is a lot of illegal activity going on in those buildings," Police Chief Troy McDuffie said.

Two months ago, the town approved an ordinance aimed at forcing property owners to keep their yards clean.

"Hadn't you rather ride through a nice neighborhood than you would a junky neighborhood with everything lying around," resident James Scott said.

The mayor says enforcement won't be a problem, because she says the incentives include attracting new people, new residents and new neighbors to a community whose real beauty has just begun to bloom.

"I've been speaking of a great town for 10 years, so it's going to be a beautiful little town nestled between Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base," Spring Lake Mayor Ethel Clarke said.

Officials say besides working with residents and absentee landlords on housing ordinances, they are also working on a new downtown revitalization plan.

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