Local News

Taylortown digs into budget to remove buried houses

Posted April 23, 2008 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 5:51 p.m. EDT

— Crews on Wednesday hauled away the remnants of homes buried in this small Moore County town.

The state told Taylortown it faced a daily fine of $15,000 if it didn't dig up more than a dozen houses that had been buried illegally.

Dump-truck driver Robert Smith watched as a shovel excavated portions of his boyhood home. A dump truck hauled the pieces of the old home to the landfill, though that’s where Smith thought the home was already after being demolished years ago.

Smith said it was “weird” to find out the home was buried in the spot where it used to stand.

The rubble from Smith’s old home and others is being scooped out of the ground and tested for contamination.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources found eight sites in Taylortown where homes had been buried, but residents told DENR there were more. The list has grown to18 burial sites.

Environmental inspector John Sigmon, who works for Environmental Abatement in Advance, N.C., said he’s never seen anything like it.

“We may find a house in a town, but never 18,” he said.
“You’re, in a sense, making this a landfill, and it’s not a licensed, permitted landfill,” he said.

So far, he has not found anything hazardous, such as chemicals or asbestos.

Ulysses Barrett, the former Taylortown mayor, has admitted to the burials. He said nobody told him there was anything wrong with the practice and that the town council authorized it. He has refused to speak with WRAL or any media.

The town hired Mid East Railroad Services, based in Carthage, to do the excavation. It’s charging a maximum of $4,950 per site, not including dumping fees, which run $500 to $600 a truck load.

Town clerk Carolyn Mitchell told WRAL Wednesday that she doesn’t know where the town will come up with the money to pay the clean-up costs. Taylortown’s yearly budget is $803,000.

The holes left by the excavation will be filled with dirt.

The clean-up job is expected to take several weeks.