Mullins city councilwoman accused of wrongly demolishing home

Tonya Brown / The empty lot in Mullins where a historic home once stood.

The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation in Columbia says Mullins City Councilwoman Jo Sanders wrongly tore down a historic home on Wine Street in Mullins.

Sanders owned the Teasley home and had it demolished about two weeks ago, according to Mullins City Administrator David Hudspeth.

The home was built in 1860 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sanders tells ABC 15 News the house was in horrible condition, and she spent more than $25,000 to restore it.

She also said it was infested with fleas that made her sick.

Sanders said she's a cancer survivor and didn't want to take any chances with her health. She believes her only option was to tear down the house.

"I had to, I had to. It come to the point that I had no choice. I did what I thought was right at the time. I mean, tell them if they had cancer twice, I'm talking non-hodgkins lymphoma and in stage five," said Sanders.

The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation's Executive Director Mike Bedenbaugh said there was an preservation easement on the property, that essentially protected it from demolition.

"We protect historic structures through an easement system, where property owners voluntarily donate an easement to the Palmetto Trust. And that easement provides a protective umbrella over the property. This is usually people who have invested a lot in restoration and don't want to see their property lost to other generations. Or either family members who have a beloved family home, and they would like to see it protected in perpetuity. No matter who owns it, and so that was the case with this property," explained Bedenbaugh.

Sanders said there was no easement on the property. She's looking for her deed to prove it.

"They said there was an easement on the house. There is no easement on my deed. We went and got a copy of it," said Sanders.

Bedenbaugh said his organization is consulting with legal counselor to determine their rights and what can be done to remedy the situation.

Mullins City Manager David Hudspeth said Sanders got city crews to tear down her house without permission.

He said while the city has a program to demolish dilapidated and rundown properties, there is a certain procedure that must be followed.

Hudsepth said Sanders didn't follow that procedure.

"Because of the long standing relationship she has with some of our employees, she just asked that they demolish the property. And they did that without filing all the paperwork, " said Hudspeth.

ABC 15 News asked Sanders why she didn't follow procedure.

Sanders explained, "Truthfully, I was so upset from all these flea bites. I had sores from my heels all the way up to my knees. And I just, didn't think about going through the city. All I could think about was getting them fleas out of here."

Sanders said she plans to grow a garden in the space where the Teasley house once stood.

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