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Mount Airy Town Council won’t take legal action against mayor over historic Flat Iron Building

Mount Airy Mayor Larry Hushour will not face a lawsuit from the Mount Airy Town Council regarding his fight to save the town’s historic Flat Iron Building.

Last week Hushour posted a statement on Facebook alerting his followers that the town council planned to discuss Monday night the possibility of legal action against him for inhibiting staff from soliciting bids for demolition of the Flat Iron Building on Main Street.

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“In my opinion, they have not afforded the executive (mayor) any recourse to their decision other than to do as I have done in inhibiting the staff from working on something that I feel strongly would be acting against the majority opinion of the citizens,” Hushour wrote. “A better course would be to allow for the May 2023 election to occur (less than a year away). I firmly believe the decision to demolish the building will be reversed by the new council.”

In May council member Stephen Domotor made a motion to demolish and remove the building within six months. Domotor had noted imminent safety hazards and risks associated with the building. The council passed the motion 3-2, with members Lynne Galetti and Karl Munder voting against.

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The mayor said the Flat Iron Building “is iconic to Mount Airy.”

During its regular meeting Monday, the town council voted 4-0-1 not to seek outside legal counsel against the mayor. Domotor abstained.

For more than a decade, the town has been trying to decide the fate of the historic building, whether that be renovating and preserving it or demolishing it. Over the years, several groups of volunteers have rallied to save the building.

Hushour said at Monday night’s meeting that he was putting together a task force to study structural and engineering improvements needed to save the building from being demolished.

“I greatly appreciate the council allowing this group of citizens the opportunity to return this building to its useful service to the community,” Hushour said Tuesday afternoon.

Hushour said the first meeting of the task force will be Aug. 11 at town hall.

“We’ll see who shows up. ... We’ll get together and we’ll start moving. We understand that after tonight we may be wasting our time, but it’s our time to waste,” he said. “And we think the building is important enough to go down this process and see if there is a manner to restore that building.”

Hushour said he has been campaigning for a year to save the Flat Iron Building, and believes it helped to get him elected.

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Following Monday night’s vote, Council President Jason Poirier offered the mayor a compromise.

“Obviously, I would like for a structural analysis to get done on the building,” he said. “I need the structural analysis to be conducted by a third party. I would like for the task force to be added to the [town meeting] agenda, and I would like monthly updates from the task force, please.”

Poirier said he does not want to wait a year for updates.

Hushour said he would inform the council on what grants are available to pay for a structural analysis of the building.

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Meanwhile, council Secretary Pamela Reed took issue with the mayor’s Facebook post.

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“Larry, I want to address something, and I will be as nice as possible, but I think it needs to be addressed,” Reed said. “Last month we had a closed meeting and we talked about a lot of things in closed meetings, but those meetings are closed for a reason. The information that we talk about is supposed to stay at this table. ...

“Council’s purpose for having that meeting was to seek information as to what our options were, because you are not honoring the original council vote,” she said. “It was fact finding. But you took that privileged information and went to the community and stirred the community up to the point where for two days now we’ve had police patrolling our homes.

“I’m sorry, but I have an issue with that,” she said.

The mayor countered that the town council discussed seeking legal counsel against him during an open session in June.

“So that was not discussed in a closed meeting,” Hushour said. “That was presented at the June meeting, that there should be some legal action that would go up against the mayor. Again, I’m not taking anything personal anymore. I get what you’re saying, but I differ in opinion with you. I don’t think I leaked anything to the public, other than to put out there that the council is considering legal action against me, and it’s on the agenda.”

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Galletti said though she understood Reed’s concerns, she gave credit to Hushour for addressing the inappropriate behavior by some residents.

“I had a conversation with the mayor today,” she said. “He did put out a video, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s all on social media, addressing the inappropriate somewhat threats being made to protest at our homes and put out our addresses. So, you gotta give credit where credit is due. The mayor did address that today and I have to thank you for doing that.”


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