Update: No permit requested to raze King’s Castle; No asbestos found in early tests

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comMarch 21, 2013 

— The days of King’s Castle may be numbered, but the local landmark will be standing for at least two more weeks, regulatory officials said Thursday.

Local builder Earl Coulston of Regent Park developer Crown Homes, said Wednesday that he expected to be issued a permit to demolish the iconic two-story building with a castle facade on the campus of MorningStar Ministry by Friday. But a spokesman with the S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control said close to the end of business Thursday that no one has applied for the demolition permit.

“Pursuant to federal regulations, the earliest a permit could be issued is 10 business days from the date the application is submitted,” DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said.

In the meantime, Beasley said, some tests on material from the site have been completed, but others are pending.

Coulston could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. A phone number for his business rang without being answered or going to voice mail. A message left for a MorningStar spokesperson on Wednesday has not been returned.

On Wednesday, Coulston described himself as “a co-owner” of the colorful structure, a remnant of the Heritage USA Christian theme park built by PTL Club founders Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Coulston is building a 100-unit townhome community just below MorningStar and said he offered to pay the cost of tearing down King’s Castle so it wouldn’t be an eyesore to residents of the new community.

“My property line goes through the back [of the Castle] so I went to [MorningStar Director] Rick [Joyner] and said ‘I’ll pay for it if you let me take it down’ and he gave me permission.”

Tuesday, a crew started to dismantle the building, once slated to become a super-sized Wendy’s fast food restaurant, but York County officials ordered workers to halt, citing the lack of a demolition permit from DHEC. Coulston said he didn’t know he needed one, but that county inspectors visited the site Wednesday and he expected a permit to be issued pending tests for hazardous materials.

Beasley said so far, tests have not revealed any hazardous substances.

“We did receive samples from the site and there does not appear to be any asbestos,” said. However, DHEC won’t declare the site safe until “all appropriate samples are reviewed.”

“I’ve been out here for 22 years and the county has never required me to get a state permit,” Coulston said Wednesday. “I didn’t know I had to get a state permit. There’s nothing there.”

Coulston said then that he expected to have the permit “by the end of the week” and to finish razing the Castle by then as well.

“We’re just waiting to get the results of the tests,” he said.

The inside of King’s Castle appeared stripped and all the walls are covered with graffiti. There were several containers inside marked “alkaline.” Neither Coulston nor Joyner said they know what’s in the containers, if anything, or how they got there.

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