New rules would target downtown nuisances

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 7, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY – Based on suggestions from businesses and property owners, City Council will consider regulating torn awnings, leaky roofs, graffiti and other nuisances in the downtown area.
The public will have a chance during the Sept. 18 City Council meeting to comment on a proposed downtown maintenance code that would include:
Graffiti on a building visible from a public right of way – remove within 30 days.
Awnings that are more than 30 percent torn, tattered or missing – remove within 30 days.
Broken windows and window frames that are more than 50 percent disfigured, cracked or peeling – fix within 60 days
Leaky roofs that “endanger the integrity of the structure or adjoining properties” – fix within 60 days.
Hazardous conditions that threaten public health, safety and welfare – immediately abate.
These issues have posed problems downtown for years, said Joe Morris, the city’s director of Community Planning Services.
“We have situations where a leaky roof over one property is damaging merchandise in another property,” Morris told City Council Tuesday.
Council members named developing the maintenance code as a goal three years ago. The proposal comes from Downtown Salisbury Inc., as well as downtown property owners, Morris said.
The vacant Empire Hotel building has several examples of nuisances that would be regulated by the new rules, including torn awnings and graffiti.
If the maintenance code passes, Downtown Salisbury Inc. “will also have some work to do, since we own the hotel,” Executive Director Randy Hemann told the Post.
The specifics would become part of the city’s nuisance code. The rules would apply only to the Municipal Service District, the special tax district in the heart of downtown.
Mayor Paul Woodson asked Hemann to name the biggest nuisance downtown. Rather than one overarching problem, it’s a host of smaller things that can add up, Hemann said.
“We get complaints from merchants that properties adjacent to theirs are not well-maintained,” Hemann said.
While the majority of downtown property owners maintain their buildings, “we have a few that don’t do a good job,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.