Category Archives: HOME IMPROVEMENT

Tears flow as family receives Habitat home

Ari Sylvester receives the key to her family’s new home from Rosemary Warner, president of the Pamlico County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. From left, are John Sylvester;  daughter, Victoria; Ari Sylvester; son, Alden; and Rosemary Warner, President of Pamlico County Habitat For Humanity.

Ari Sylvester receives the key to her family’s new home from Rosemary Warner, president of the Pamlico County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. From left, are John Sylvester; daughter, Victoria; Ari Sylvester; son, Alden; and Rosemary Warner, President of Pamlico County Habitat For Humanity.

By Lisa E. Bernett

ORIENTAL — The Sylvester family, John and Ari, together with children, Alden, age 14; and Victoria, age 10; have a new home thanks to Habitat for Humanity and the generosity of many volunteers and businesses.

Saturday afternoon in a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony, the keys to the new dwelling were officially presented to the Sylvesters on the front steps of their Harbour Way residence.

Ari and John faced many family challenges leading up to this wonderful occasion, including Ari’s diagnosis and long battle with breast cancer that bankrupted the family.

A family friend made them aware of Habitat for Humanity, and they applied for the qualification process. Once selected, they were involved in every aspect of building their own home. Ari proudly pointed out that she knew where every nail and piece of wood was placed, and she later painted most of the home’s interior.

Richard Samanns, a licensed general contractor, was with the family on a daily basis overseeing the construction – participating in everything from lot selection, to adjusting the plans to meet the family’s needs, and the actual construction.

The Sylvesters have made the house truly their own home: Ari’s Habitat for Humanity spectacular artwork and John’s photographs are hanging on every wall.

The people in attendance included, and many had welcoming congratulatory remarks, were representatives of Habitat for Humanity: RosemaryWarner, President in PamlicoCounty; Vice President, Donald Guthrie; Secretary, Flo Daniels. Reverend John Farmer offered words of prayer and dedication, and BarbaraVenturi, Mayor Pro-Tem of Oriental, welcomed the Sylvester family to Oriental.

Flo Daniels and Rich Samanns recalled that ground was broken for the home in July 2014, had some weather delays, but it was completed in six months—one of the fastest homes to be built. Mrs. Daniels credits the speed in completing the project to Rich Samanns, and his constant presence and work ethic.

Some of the many businesses that either donated or substantially discounted products are Lowes and Carpet One in New Bern. Samanns said that all of the subcontractors also either volunteered their time and expertise, or it was offered at a significant discount.

Members of St. Peters The Fisherman Catholic Church on White Farm Road were acknowledged for often providing food to the many volunteers. Procter and Gamble sent a box of household necessities as a housewarming gift to the Sylvesters.

Ari was emotional as she spoke for the family and stated, “This house is such a gift and blessing to us. We never thought we would own a home again. We would like to thank the many volunteers and the community for Habitat for Humanity, everything they have done and the way they have embraced us.”

Flo Daniels said that Habitat for Humanity is accepting applications to build a fourth home in Pamlico County. The mortgage on the home is interest-free. In order to qualify, a family must have lived in Pamlico County for one year, be willing to partner (physically work on their own home), and be able to pay the interest-free mortgage. If anyone is interested, an application may be obtained at the Pamlico County Habitat for Humanity Restore on Highway 55 in Grantsboro.

When a walkway becomes a deck

Land use rules mighty confusing in Oriental

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
Bill Minchin, president of the Oriental West homeowners association, uses a tape measure to demonstrate a 35-inch encroachment that must be sawed off, after a unanimous decision of the town board Tuesday night.

Bill Minchin, president of the Oriental West homeowners association, uses a tape measure to demonstrate a 35-inch encroachment that must be sawed off, after a unanimous decision of the town board Tuesday night.

ORIENTAL – A newly constructed walkway or deck – depending upon your point of view – intrudes 35 inches too far into a required seven-foot setback from an adjacent property line, leaving the homeowners association of Oriental West Condos little choice but to saw off the offending cantilevered section.

The unanimous decision came Tuesday night after an hour-plus public hearing when the five-commissioner town board heard from both sides on the contentious issue.

Missy and Bob Baskervill own a condo there. They and other condo owners and argued that repeated nor’easters and hurricanes demanded a ground level walkway – washed away during Hurricane Irene – be replaced with a more durable structure, higher off the ground in order to serve a building that had been elevated in the wake of the devastating storm.

Behind Minchin, a cantilevered portion of the deck/walkway projects 35 inches into a setback of seven feet, roughly delineated by a property line hedge on the left and support posts on the right.

Behind Minchin, a cantilevered portion of the deck/walkway projects 35 inches into a setback of seven feet, roughly delineated by a property line hedge on the left and support posts on the right.

“The walkway would float around,” explained Missy Baskervill. “We wanted to bring it up into the light of day. All we’re trying to do is eliminate a slimy walkway.”

Town officials, including former town manager Wyatt Cutler, were sympathetic, but reluctantly concluded that a higher ‘deck’ was no longer a ground level walkway. The new deck, they said, “expanded a non-conformity,” citing the fact that the walkway (which pre-dated the town’s catch-all Growth Management Ordinance) had originally been “grandfathered in” after the town adopted zoning (to include seven-foot setbacks) in the late 1990s.

“Once the non-conformity became a deck,” said Cutler, “that was a change of use.”

Any hope the condo owners had that elected officials might rule in their favor was dashed by the testimony of Ben Barnett, a part-time police officer for the town and a former Emergency Management Coordinator.

Oriental West was the town’s first condo-plex, built in the late 1980s.

Oriental West was the town’s first condo-plex, built in the late 1980s.

Barnett suggested the 35-inch encroachment might represent a safety concern.

“We would not be able to get an emergency vehicle back in there,” said Barnett.

After the meeting, Missy Baskervill dismissed Barnett’s comments. She said any hint that setbacks along property lines should be always be viewed as potential access points for emergency vehicles “really opens a can of worms” and that such a prospect might wreak havoc if property owners were forced to cut trees or trim vegetation wherever they might pop up in thousands of setbacks throughout the community.