Code enforcement protects the safety of the public, making sure basic living and working standards are met. Code ordinances also protect property value and help to attract new development. When potential violations arise, local governments are required to investigate with the goal of achieving voluntary compliance. These services are vital to improving and preserving quality of life for residents and businesses.
Small Town Resources
Most communities in our region do not have the need or financial resources for full-time code enforcement staff. To help support these local governments, Centralina offers on-call staff from the Centralina Community Economic Development (CED) department. One community that Centralina CED worked with recently is the Town of Weddington. This small town is located in the northwestern corner of Union County, NC approximately 15 miles southeast of the City of Charlotte and 14 miles northwest of downtown Monroe. It encompasses approximately 17 square miles or roughly 11,000 acres and is home to over 13,000 residents. Weddington consists almost entirely of single-family homes on lots of one acre or more and the only commercial area, referred to as the Town Center, is in the vicinity of NC 16 and NC 84.
Weddington provides reactive code enforcement services through an annual contract with Centralina. This means that instead of using code enforcement officers to proactively look for code violations, the Town responds to requests from its residents and businesses owners as the need arises. On average, Weddington has between five and 10 active cases per month. This light caseload is not enough to support a full-time resource; however, the Town still needs to handle these requests efficiently and effectively. This makes Centralina’s on-call support service a good fit.
The majority of cases Centralina responds to for the Town are appearance based (high grass/weeds, outside storage or unpermitted accessory structures) but occasionally we receive complaints with a direct impact on health and safety. Last fall, the Town forwarded a complaint related to illegal construction activity at 675 Weddington Road, which our team worked to handle quickly and appropriately. A member of Centralina’s code enforcement team visited the site shortly after the complaint was filed. Our staff confirmed the interior of the residential property had been cleared and was being used to store construction equipment and materials. The gasoline found in the property posed a potential health hazard to the surrounding residents. The following photos were taken during the initial investigation stage:
After this initial visit, Centralina’s code enforcement team obtained property details and ownership information from Union County. Because the property owner was out of the area, Centralina’s staff not only sent certified letters to the owner outlining the code enforcement violations, but they also contacted the business advertised on the trucks. Ultimately, the property owner removed all construction activity, which eliminated the potential for harm to surrounding neighbors. A recent follow-up visit confirmed the issues had been addressed, as shown in the following photos.
Services like those provided to Weddington are available to all communities in our region. We utilized a dashboard to monitor progress on this case, as we do with many others to ensure timelines are being met. These dashboards enable Centralina staff to share real-time data with the municipal staff and when appropriate, we work with communities to begin the enforcement process that can include daily fines and other financial penalties.
Code enforcement is an important component in furthering naturally occurring affordable housing and preserving existing housing. It also offers opportunities for greater resiliency of climate dynamics and weatherization. Centralina is excited to continue offering these services to local governments in need of assistance to help enhance community development in our region. Our scalable approach allows communities of all sizes to benefit from the tools and techniques we provide.