CHAPEL HILL — The town hasn’t had any luck finding owners of the flood-prone Camelot Village Condominiums who want to sell.
That was the town’s only option, because the issue involves private property, Town Manager Roger Stancil said. Eminent domain cannot be used to seize the properties, officials have said.
Deputy Fire Chief Robert Bosworth said they sent letters to every owner they could find about the plan to use state grant money to buy buildings in the complex. Some letters were returned; others went unanswered.
“In fact, less than 25 percent of the owners responded and of those, some owners were very firm they had no interest in selling their property and requested we not contact them again. The state was notified of our results and I thanked them for working with the Town,” Bosworth said.
The South Estes Drive condominiums have flooded several times in the last 20 years. The most recent incident was June 30, when a storm dumped about 5 inches of rain on the area in less than two hours. It left more than 100 residents looking for a place to live in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Camelot Village was one of the hardest-hit communities, with 68 of 106 condos damaged.
Orange County Emergency Services asked Bosworth in early July about working with N.C. Emergency Management to get money to buy out the flooded buildings. The state grant helps communities buy properties affected by “repetitive damages due to flooding.”
To apply, the town had to get all the owners in each building to agree to sell and at least 70 percent of all Camelot Village owners to agree to the purchases, since they would change how the community looks, Bosworth said.
This was the town’s second attempted buyout. In 2009, the town got a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to buy the buildings but was forced to send roughly $2 million back when it couldn’t find willing owners.