Havelock commissioners debated proposed new rules on minimum maintenance standards for buildings


Havelock commissioners debated proposed new rules on minimum maintenance standards for buildings in the city on Monday.



Scott Chase, Havelockís departing planning director, presented the proposal that would add teeth to present city regulations on dilapidated, unkempt or otherwise nuisance homes within the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.



"Itís one of those things weíve been talking about for at least 10 years," Commissioner Danny Walsh said of the proposed rules.



The proposal spells out a range of concerns including structural conditions, minimum standards for safe and sanitary maintenance, control of insects, rodents and infestation, and responsibilities of owners and occupants.



"Iíd like to think that this ordinance is a means of having a better conversation with property owners about maintenance," Chase said.



The proposal is a color-coded system in which green would indicate a building in no outward need of repair.



Yellow would indicate visible signs of neglect or deterioration but that the building remained fit for human habitation.



Red would mean the building had deteriorated to the final stage prior to dilapidation, though sufficient repairs could be made to preserve the structure.



Blue would mean the building poses imminent danger and the initiation of condemnation proceedings could begin.



"Iím not a big fan of yellow," Commissioner Will Lewis said. "If I have a shutter hanging by a hinge and you send me a letter, thatís just going to make me mad. It seems like yellow is just too aggressive."



Walsh, on the other hand, said his only alternative with junk properties in his neighborhood was to buy them and clean them up.



"In my neighborhood, I want you to slap them in the head," he said. " Ö Thereís no excuse for keeping a house like that. If they canít afford it, then they need to move."



Commissioner Jim Stuart questioned why the city was considering enforcement of the code in the cityís extraterritorial jurisdiction, where residents are not considered part of the city and pay no taxes but must abide by city rules.



"It seems like weíve got enough going on in town without going out there," he said.



One of the provisions allows a city inspector to go inside a residentís home to look for violations if the inspector sees exterior violations.



"Why should I allow anyone to come inside my house and inspect?" Commissioner George Liner said.



Part of the proposal calls for walls and roofs to be substantially weather tight and rodent proof and that bathroom floors be reasonably impervious to water so it could be cleaned and lead to a sanitary condition. Residents would be expected to maintain cleanliness and to dispose of all garbage in a reasonably clean and sanitary manner.



It also asks for property owners to have yards and open spaces graded and maintained to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water.



Chase said maintenance of drainage ditches by property owners was a large problem in the city.



"People have a well-maintained yard but have tall weeds in the ditch," Chase said.



If property owners are found to be in violation, they would be given 30 days to make repairs or improvements and would have 10 days to appeal to the city to contest the complaint.



The 30 days can be pushed back if property owners are making a good faith effort to make the corrections, according to the proposal.



Commissioners want to hear from the public on the subject, and have scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at Havelock City Hall.



In other business during Mondayís meeting, the board decided to hire Onslow Grading and Paving for $487,000 to perform street maintenance in the city.



According to Bill Ebron, Havelockís public services director, the company was the lowest bidder, yet exceeded the budgeted amount of $453,000 for the job. Commissioners decided the extra $34,000 would come from Powell Bill Funds received from the state.



Ebron said that throughout the city, there are 2,804 square yards of skin patches, 5,500 square yards of full depth patches, 15,638 square yards of one-inch overlay paving and 5,547 square yards of two-inch overlay paving needed for city streets.



Mayor Jimmy Sanders had jury duty and did not attend the Monday morning meeting.