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City buys downtown site, ending condemnation fight

HIGH POINT — The city has dismissed its legal action against a downtown property it was trying to seize by eminent domain after the owner agreed to sell it.

The city on Monday acquired the two parcels that comprise Piedmont Electric Repair Co., at 208 N. Lindsay St. and 508 W. English Road, for $1.5 million. The city now owns a corner tract at the intersection of these two streets, where it plans to develop a parking facility to accommodate growth in the catalyst district that includes Truist Point stadium.

The city tried unsuccessfully to buy the PERCO site for years but couldn’t come to terms with the owner, Bucky Draughan.

The city filed a condemnation lawsuit in May 2022 and agreed to compensate him $985,000 for the taking. The case was pending in Guilford County Superior Court, but negotiations continued until Draughan accepted the higher purchase offer.

“While our client continues to maintain that the city had no right to condemn its property for what the evidence strongly suggested was primarily a non-public purpose, ultimately, the city agreed to pay a fair price for its purchase as a means to resolve the dispute,” Draughan’s attorneys, Bob Brinson and Chris Finan, said in a statement.

The law allows governments to take private property for public use, as long as just compensation is paid, which the city argues it was doing.

Finan and Brinson argued that the city was attempting to take their client’s property to benefit the private development of the neighboring Congdon Yards campus, instead of for a public purpose.

They documented in court filings that the city’s own parking study from 2020 showed that there was already more than enough existing parking to accommodate current and future demand in the catalyst district.

Interim City Attorney Meghan Maguire said she thinks that coming to terms with PERCO and avoiding additional stages of the condemnation process in court was “a good resolution for all the parties involved.”

She said the city agreed to let PERCO continue operating on the property by lease agreement until Dec. 31, 2023. The business has not announced its plans.

City crews battle pair of house fires

HIGH POINT — Crews for the High Point Fire Department battled two separate house fires in the eastern part of the city this week.

No one was injured in either fire, but one destroyed a house in the 1500 block of Franklin Avenue where a family of five lived.

That fire was reported about 9:20 a.m. Monday, and firefighters arrived to find flames engulfing the attic and backside of the one-story house. Crews brought the fire under control in about 10 minutes.

“There was a considerable amount of fire and damage throughout the house,” Hyler said.

Investigators say the house was a total loss, with an estimated $47,000 worth of damage.

Hyler said the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in the rear of the house.

Two adults and three children lived in the house, but no one was home at the time. The family is being assisted by the local American Red Cross chapter and relatives, Hyler said.

A fire at a duplex in the 110 block of Hoskins Street was reported at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and firefighters arrived to find smoke billowing from the building. The two people living there were evacuated, Hyler said.

The fire started in the kitchen of one unit while someone was cooking, and it was contained to the kitchen area, Hyler said. Crews brought the fire under control within five minutes.

The damage to the unit where the fire started was estimated at $65,000 and is repairable, Hyler said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting in the wake of the fire. | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul

High-speed wreck takes out pole, lines
  • Updated

Romar T. Hood

HIGH POINT — A man driving at high speed lost control of the car early Wednesday, and the wreck resulted in a section of Westchester Drive being closed for nine hours — including the entire morning rush — as utility crews worked to repair the pole and lines the car knocked out.

About 1 a.m., a High Point Police Department officer saw a car speeding down Eastchester Drive near University Parkway.

The officer chased after the car, but before he could catch up, it crashed in the 1500 block of Westchester, just north of Chestnut Drive, police said. Despite having serious injuries, the driver tried to run away when the officer arrived.

Romar T. Hood, 29, of High Point, was arrested and transferred to a hospital.

A passenger in the car was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He has not been charged.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, police say.

Officers found a pistol and about 1.5 pounds of marijuana in the car.

The wreck caused scattered power outages Wednesday morning, at peak affecting 114 customers, said Tyler Berrier, director of the High Point Electric Utilities Department.

Westchester was blocked to all traffic in the area north of Chestnut at 2 a.m. as crews worked to replace one utility pole and reset the power lines. Westchester wasn’t reopened until 11 a.m.

On Wednesday, Hood was released from the hospital and was charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule VI controlled substance, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer, speeding to elude arrest, reckless driving, speeding 15 mph more than the speed limit, driving while license suspended or revoked, improper lane change or failure to maintain lane control, seat belt violation, failure to stop at a stop light, carrying a concealed gun and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Hood is confined to the Guilford County Jail in High Point with no bond allowed.

Hood has been arrested more than a dozen times in the past six years, according to police.

He has had three felony convictions since 2011, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety: sale and delivery of a Schedule VI controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver a Schedule VI controlled substance and possession of a firearm by a felon. | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul

Democratic challenger will run for commissioner

GUILFORD COUNTY — A small business owner who has run twice recently for the N.C. General Assembly plans to make a bid next year for a seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

Brandon Gray, who lost bids in 2022 and 2020 against state Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, said Wednesday he will run as a Democrat for the District 6 seat held by Republican James Upchurch, who isn’t seeking reelection. The district covers parts of north High Point and southwestern Guilford County.

Gray has lived outside District 6 in Oak Ridge but is building a house on land in Colfax that is within the district, he told The High Point Enterprise.

In an announcement to supporters, Gray said he wants to serve as a commissioner to make a difference at the local level.

“Local government has the biggest impact on folks’ everyday life,” Gray said. “By being a county commissioner, I can have an almost instant impact on our community. With your help, I look forward to being a progressive voice on the board and fighting for our community.”

Gray appears to be the first candidate to publicly announce for the District 6 race, which will be decided in the fall 2024 general election.

Upchurch said last month that he has accomplished what he set out to do when elected in 2020 and that he plans to run next year for a statewide office. He has not released details.

Upchurch won the District 6 seat three years ago as a Democrat but switched in 2021 to a Republican, saying he became disillusioned with Democrats on the board and their approaches to county business. Upchurch will serve through his current board term that ends in December 2024.

Democrats hold a 6-3 advantage on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Next year voters will decide four contests for the board.

Gray seemed close on election night last November to pulling a monumental upset in House District 62, leading Faircloth, a veteran representative from High Point, in the vote count for most of the night. A surge in late returns pushed Faircloth ahead to a solid win, 52% of the vote to Gary’s 48%. | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul


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