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Salisbury mill becomes an eyesore for residents

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SALISBURY, N.C.—That's what Bobby Wise and his neighbors say they've been dealing with: rodents, snakes and piles of debris for years.

"First thing you wake up in the morning all you see is a pile of junk,” Wise said.

Wise lives across the street from the old Kesler Mill site in Salisbury. It was built in the late 1800s and was a popular textile mill in its hey-day. But now all that remains is a nuisance.

"Rats, opossums, everything is right underneath that trash... flows right into the community,” Wise said.

An Atlanta-based charity called FCS Urban Ministries bought the mill about a decade ago. It tore the mill down and sold off all of its valuable assets.

"A lot of people love those old wooden floors -- those textile mills were just beautiful,” Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson said.

Woodson said the charity was supposed to clean up the site, but instead they abandoned it.

“They left Salisbury and all its citizens with a big pile of mess down there," Woodson said.

The weeds have been growing for four years.

"It's not fair,” Wise said.

But now there's hope for the site's future. The city and county are waiving about $200,000 in fees and fines.

Mayor Woodson says he hopes it encourages the charity to do what it should have done years ago.

"Legally, they should clean it up. It's their property and they're getting pretty much a free hand at cleaning it up,” Woodson said.

Once the property is clear, the city hopes to regain ownership of the land to redevelop it and revitalize it–a change neighbors say is long overdue.

"It wouldn't be a sore-eye for the community to look at every day,” Wise said.

News 14 Carolina reached out to FCS Urban Ministries.

A spokeswoman said it sold the property back in January and no longer had control over it. But, in fact, the charity sold the site to a shell corporation.

Salisbury officials tell us the two companies are owned by the same person.

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