WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT)- What began as residents complaining about the increase of crime in their neighborhoods has grown into demanding a government building being moved.
Originally those who live in the Runny Mead, High Woods and Baldwin Woods neighborhoods feared that if the probation and parole office in Whiteville wasn't moved they would continue to be the victims of crime. Since the probation office relocated to its current location in Whiteville, multiple cars have been broken into and one man was mugged.
Now after further investigation, it appears the probation office is in violation of state laws that prohibit sex offenders from being within 300 feet of a school. On top of that, Jerry Hall, a developer in the Whiteville area, also claims the office doesn't meet North Carolina building codes, "It doesn't have an elevator to the second floor, and the building is not handicap accessible."
County Manager Bill Clark says the building is under a contract and they won't be able to relocate until a new court house annex is finished. They want the office to be closer to the court house. The current office is under a four year contract and finding a new location to move into could take up to a year.
Stephanie Miller is the voice of three neighborhood watches that have been formed because of the probation and parole office. She expressed her frustration after she was told the office might not be moved until a new courthouse annex was built. "Three more years? Look what has happened in the past year. I don't want to take three more years of people's homes and cars being broken into. People being mugged in a neighborhood, where that didn't happen before."
County Commissioner Charles T. McDowell says, "We will explore options for relocating the office, but it will take time." Time that neighbors say isn't a luxury. "I can't walk around my neighborhood with my family without protection." says Miller. "There are plenty of other empty buildings to put this office." She continued, "I don't want to walk around for another three years with my daughter and have to carry a gun."
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