CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – It is an 85-year-old building that used to be a hotel.
Now it is considered a “non-conforming boarding house” in Carolina Beach. Owned by Jonnie Barnitz and her husband Corey Garsh, there is no credit or background check required to live at the house located on Florence Avenue. Rent is paid week-to-week on every Friday and water, internet, cable, and electricity are all included.
On Aug. 14, the Town of Carolina Beach received a complaint from a former tenant citing: “Bedbugs, roaches, pipes leaking, wiring issue, maggots, mold in walls.”
According to Carolina Beach ordinances:
Whenever the building inspector or designated official receives a complaint alleging a violation of chapter 4 of the Code, or applicable building codes or other matters within the jurisdiction of the building inspector, or whenever the building inspector or designated official becomes aware of the same, it shall investigate the matter and take action in accordance with the procedures set forth in this chapter.”
The investigation began soon after the complaint was filed, and a month later, a second complaint had similar claims.
“Definitely some safety concerns that we want to look at,” said Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin. “And expedite enforcement action.”
“Nothing’s ever fixed. There have been several people that have moved in and seen things that were not right,” tenant Tim Chestnutt explained. “But they wanted to move in just because it’s cheaper than other places and everything included.”
Garsh says the “tenants are all happy.”
We spoke with him on the phone, and he was surprised by the allegations of current and former tenants. Garsh says that the building is all full, and he and his wife are simply giving people a place to stay.
There is speculation to who is responsible for the condition of the inside of the house, because in a boarding house, residents are responsible for cleaning their own space. According to Carolina Beach, all responsibility for the house falls on the owner.
In the coming weeks, town officials will be conducting an investigation with code, zoning, building, and fire staff.
“There may be one code that does a fine, and another that has a timeline for eviction,” explained Parvin.
At this point, the house still needs to be inspected, but according to zoning ordinances, boarding houses are no longer allowed on the island.
“If it went away or that use stopped for six or more months, in our code, you couldn’t use it,” Parvin said.
The owners have met with code enforcement and plan to comply with the investigation.
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