If there was still any question about the purpose of the proposed “Good Repair” ordinance being only about safety, it was dismissed at a meeting to discuss possible changes to the proposed ordinance held Friday at 9 a.m. in the office of the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC).
The group was discussing how boarded up buildings could be regulated to make them look better. When TREBIC president Marlene Sanford was asked if the ordinance was not supposed to be about safety and not esthetics, she said that clearly esthetics was a major concern and nobody disagreed with her.
The group made up of property owners and real estate industry representatives, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter discussed what needed to be added to the ordinance as well as what they would like to see deleted.
Most of the portions recommended for deletion in the enabling ordinance were said to be duplicative of other codes to which buildings have to comply or considered unnecessary. The group discussed the need to deal with occupied and vacant structures with a different set of standards and how to handle buildings with a triple net lease where the tenant not the owner is responsible for most of the maintenance.
It also discussed the fact that the property owner not a third party should have the right to decide whether the building should be demolished or repaired regardless of how much it would cost to repair it.
But the group also discussed recommending a section be added to regulate the esthetics of vacant buildings. The proposed addition would require that boarded up windows either be complimentary to the existing exterior finish of the building or “art produced in a professional and workmanlike manner.”
Sanford and Judy Stadler the regulatory affairs director of TREBIC had marked up the entire 35 page International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) which the current proposed ordinance uses as the standard to which all nonresidential buildings in Greensboro have to comply.
Sanford said that when they removed what didn’t apply to nonresidential buildings and what was duplicated in other regulatory codes that they had reduced the portion they considered applicable to about eight pages.
It would have been helpful for the group to have someone from city staff involved in writing the ordinance present to explain why it was considered necessary to use the IPMC. But not a single member of city staff attended the meeting.
This is despite the fact that there was a long discussion at the City Council meeting on June 18 about the need for city staff to meet with stakeholders to discuss their concerns. It was repeatedly stated that the staff would have three meetings with stakeholders before the Tuesday, July 18 City Council meeting when the ordinance is scheduled to come up for a vote.
There is another meeting on the good repair ordinance scheduled for Monday July 1 at 2 p.m. at city hall. Presumably some members of city staff will be able to attend.