Rowan hires new director of building inspections

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 6, 2012

SALISBURY – As part of an image makeover, Rowan County has hired a local architect to run the troubled building codes enforcement department and oversee building inspections.
Pete Bogle has been named the new director of building codes enforcement, Rowan County Manager Gary Page announced Friday.
The county’s inspections department has been criticized for years as unfriendly and not cooperative with developers.
Bogle replaces Dana Hart. Page fired him in June. Plans reviewer Brian Goins also left the department after Page eliminated his position as part of a reduction in force.
“Two of three people have left the department,” Page told the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce during a forum on Friday. “We want to be part of solving problems, as opposed to being part of the problem.”
Page said it’s been embarrassing for him and Rowan County commissioners to have a department that has been perceived as a problem, especially during an economic downturn when local government wants to encourage job growth.
“We didn’t help people through the process,” Page said, adding the department “wasn’t nice.”
Building inspection services and plan review are “a big deal,” he said, and the county is working hard to improve its image with private developers.
“We are trying to change and reinvent ourselves,” he said.
Bogle will help the county move in a new direction, Page said.
“He’s coming from the private sector. We talk about operating the county like a business, and I think he’ll have the right demeanor to work with people,” Page said. “We’re here to here to serve. We’re not here to be a stumbling block or obstacle to anybody.”
Bogle, who is married and has two children, has worked for Ramsay, Burgin & Smith Architects in Salisbury for 15 years.
Having worked in Rowan County, he is familiar with existing ordinances and planning processes for Salisbury and the various municipalities, Page said.
As a native of Mt. Ulla who attended West Rowan High School and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Bogle will have more ownership in the local community and decisions that can help Rowan grow and enhance economic development, Page said.
“One of the concerns I’ve had with a couple of guys that have run the department over the last 10 years, they weren’t residents of the county,” he said. “At 5:00 every day, especially on Friday, they left the county and didn’t come back until Monday morning.”
Page also pointed to Bogle’s experience as a plus.
“One of key things he’ll be doing is plan review, and that’s what he’s been doing for the last 15 years – drawing plans for all kinds of projects,” Page said.
During the forum, Chamber President Bob Wright said past problems with the development process have been the interpretation of ordinances and bad attitudes.
The chamber met privately earlier this year with more than a dozen developers to hear their concerns and suggestions, which Wright then passed on to city and county officials.
One of the biggest requests from developers was a new attitude, “as opposed to how many stumbling blocks can we put out there,” Wright said.
Wright praised Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris for setting up a task force to study the possibility of the city offering its own plan review and building inspection services.
Dubbed “express review,” the city’s service would be faster than the county’s but cost more. During his State of the City report to the Chamber, Paris outlined the idea and said developers are willing to pay more for a higher level of service.
The task force will study the issue and make recommendations to City Council.
Paris and Page, who both attended the forum, have said the Chamber’s insights from developers were valuable and helped lead to a closer working relationship between the city and county.
Friday afternoon, Page shed more light on Hart’s dismissal this summer, saying he was let go for “unacceptable personal conduct.”
In July, Hart told the Post he was fired after a confrontation with Page. He said Page told him to let go of two specific people, and Hart objected because he thought it should be his choice who to dismiss.
Page didn’t confirm that story Friday, but he did say he asked Hart to look at his department budget because there were some areas that could be reduced.
“I’m responsible to the board for a balanced budget, trying to keep the county as lean and efficient as possible, and it was just a difference of opinion,” Page said. “He expressed those differences of opinion in a staff meeting, to a degree that I thought it necessary to terminate his employment.”
Bogle begins work Oct. 29. His starting salary is $70,305.
“I look forward to working with Pete,” Page said. “He will be an asset for our citizens and Rowan County government.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264 or reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.