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Hillsville sells old jail

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By Brian Funk, Editor

HILLSVILLE — A Florida couple now owns the old Carroll County Jail, after Hillsville Town Council accepted an offer to sell the building on Monday night.

Little interest had been shown until December 2007,when Town Manager Larry

South informed council members that an offer had been received.

Council voted unanimously on Monday night to accept an offer of $50,000 from Bob and Ann DeGrosa of Merritt Island, Fla.

Hillsville had acquired the jail from the county as a part of the first phase of its downtown revitalization.

South said Monday that the couple — who also have a residence on Hereford Road in the Laurel Fork area of Carroll County — haven’t stated any firm plans for the building, but have mentioned the possibility of an antique retail store downstairs and a museum upstairs.

The DeGrosas didn’t attend the meeting, but were available by phone if council had questions Monday.

No one spoke at a public hearing on the proposed jail sale at the beginning of town council’s meeting.

Later, council members discussed the offer.

The old jail, which is across a municipal parking lot on Mill Street, has been empty for years, due to the difficulty of remodeling the building with its heavy bars and bunks and other accouterments installed during its 1938 construction.

Council Member Greg Yonce said the town should specify that the building is being sold “as-is.”

South said the purchase would include the jail and the lot on which it sits, including three parking spaces on Mill Street.

“I suggest that we remove any town property from the building” before the DeGrosas take ownership, Council Member Orba Alderman said.

South said there wasn’t much inside, other than some tourism brochures.

“I think the possibility of having another potential business there is a good move,” Mayor Randall Gravley said after the vote was taken. “I look forward to that happening.”

In the past, Hillsville officials had considered requests to use the jail for a combination Jubal Early Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp headquarters and Carroll Genealogy Club research library. It was also under consideration for a new town police department office.

Both those possible uses fell by the wayside.

In other action, council:

•approved the Hillsville Planning Commission’s recommendation to rezone a lot at 226 West Stuart Drive from residential medium density (R-1) to general commercial (GC) use.

Ashley Primm wants to open a real estate office in a building on the site.

Council held a public hearing on the request Monday, but received no comments.

South said he had only one call about the issue, and it was neither pro nor con.

Ann Largin of the planning commission said the building on the site is a “non-conforming structure” under the town’s zoning code, because it would be too large for the 50-foot-wide lot if it were a new structure.

But, because it existed before the town’s building code, it was grandfathered in.

Town council also accepted the planning commission’s recommendation to approve a site plan for the real estate office, with the stipulation that Primm add shrubbery to the rear of the lot for screening and pave a parking lot within six months.

• heard a request from Yonce, on behalf of Court Street Coffee, for the town to designate two parking spaces near the business as 10-minute “pick-up zones.”

Yonce said the owners wanted to have a drive-through, but that wasn’t feasible. Their solution was to have two spaces where customers could park, quickly pick up orders and leave.

They wanted one space on Court Street in front of the business, and one across the street, next to a municipal lot.

Signs would have to be put up, designating the pick-up zone times — 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

“That would cover their morning and lunch traffic,” Yonce said.

“Do we expect the town police to enforce that?” Alderman asked.

“Yes — as much as they enforce those on Main Street,” Yonce said.

Alderman asked who would pay for the signs, noting that they could be expensive.

Yonce suggested that the restaurant could buy one, and the town could by the other.

He made a motion to approve the parking spaces, but received no second.