Kinston Woman Crusades To Clean Up Properties & Crime

A woman who lives in a historic district in the Kinston is fed up with abandoned, boarded up, homes in her neighborhood, and says they're contributing to crime in the area.

Carol Tokarski lives in Kinston's historic Mitchelltown neighborhood. She says there are at least ten abandoned homes just within a block of her house, and says the homes encourage crime in the area.

Tokarski says she complained about the homes and gang activity to city council in May, and in June a rash of murders began in the city.

Thomas Hinton and deputy Warren "Sneak" Lewis were killed in the Mitchelltown neighborhood, followed by two others in other parts of town.

Kinston's interim city manager says code enforcement officers can board up abandoned properties, but can't tear them down until they're declared structurally unsafe and condemned. He says another ordinance requires homeowners to fix up deteriorated homes, but says the city can't enforce it because many of the homeowners are unable to pay for the repairs.

Tokarski wants Kinston to pass an ordinance like she says Raleigh has, where the city can seize deteriorated properties and sell them to people willing to renovate them at a low cost.

Interim city manager bill Ellis says the city will consider it, but says it's not as easy as it sounds because there's often back-taxes and other legal matters involved in acquiring properties.

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