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Church's Pastor Faces Fines For Ordinance Violations

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SELMA, N.C. — The owner of a Selma church destroyed when a truck crashed into it could face legal trouble if debris from the site is not removed.

Shortly after the January accident, Temple of Joy owner and pastor, the Rev. James Neal, vowed his congregation would rebuild. Church members began tearing down the sanctuary brick by brick, but nearly six months later, most of the building is still standing.

Selma town leaders said they have tried for months to get the church to clear the lot and have received numerous complaints about the site.

"Well, it just (doesn't) look right like it is," said John Broadie who lives next door to the church. "It just needs tearing down and redoing."

Most of the complaints are about the appearance, but town leaders are also worried about the safety of the building and site, which violates several town ordinances.

"We need it cleaned up," said Selma Town Manager Stan Farmer. "And it can't take another six months to get there."

Farmer said Neal has ignored several warning letters and calls. He is now ordered to appear in court in July.

Local leaders said that if they saw any sign of progress or even heard a cleanup plan, they would work with Neal.

"They were out there picking up some scraps about a month and a half ago," Broadie said, "But I haven't seen anyone out there lately."

For now, it could take fines and force to clear what the accident left behind.

WRAL tried several times to reach Neal for comment, but he did not immediately return calls.


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