Salisbury asks county building inspector chief to speak at retreat

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 1, 2013

SALISBURY — Pete Bogle said he didn’t have to think hard before accepting Salisbury’s invitation to speak at City Council’s upcoming strategic planning retreat.
It may be unusual for the city to ask a Rowan County official to speak at the annual event where leaders chart the city’s future, but Bogle, the county’s director of building code enforcement, said it signals a new relationship and a common goal — to make Salisbury and Rowan more business-friendly.
“Honestly, it’s a lot of why I took this job, to help be a bridge between the two,” said Bogle, an architect.
Salisbury and Rowan have been at odds over the construction permitting process for years. Finger-pointing and conflict between the city and county were common when projects like the new Courtyard Marriott became mired in red tape.
Bogle will talk at the retreat Feb. 14 about how his office will partner with the city’s new one-stop shop for development to provide a customer-focused, business-friendly permitting process.
“The city of Salisbury is the seat of Rowan County. Those are our citizens,” Bogle said. “They are not an island out there by themselves. It is very important for especially my department to work alongside the city planning department.”
Bogle even has his own desk in the city’s one-stop shop, located at 132 N. Main St. He hasn’t used it much yet, as his county office has been short-staffed since he took his new position, and he’s been working the front desk.
But once his new employee comes on board Monday, Bogle said he plans to have regular office hours at the one-stop shop so developers, business owners, architects and homeowners can meet with city and county permitting officials under one roof.
Mayor Paul Woodson said he asked Bogle to speak at the retreat to emphasize City Council’s top priority — to recruit new businesses and make it easier for existing businesses to expand.
He said Bogle, who started a few months ago, already has made a big difference for the city.
“I was plagued for years with complaints from business owners and developers,” said Woodson, who has served on City Council for more than 15 years. “… Pete Bogle has changed that.”
While the city’s launch of the one-stop shop in June was critical, Woodson said, it became more effective when Bogle took the helm at the county.
“Pete has brought common sense to the county inspection department,” Woodson said. “… His goal is, how can I help you expand your business, get your business started, remodel your business. We are going to work it out, and we want you in our county and our city.”
As Rowan County’s unemployment rate has inched up toward 10 percent, Woodson said business recruitment is more important that ever.
“We’ve got to fight every day,” he said. “It’s a totally different world now.”
Bogle said county and city staffs are working together “to be just as developer-friendly as possible.”
During his keynote address to the city, Bogle said he plans to highlight new services his office is offering, including analysis of the state building rehabilitation code. Known as the “rehab code,” these state regulations are especially important for Salisbury, which encourages historic preservation and has numerous vacant buildings to redevelop.
“I can help a developer who wants to deal specifically with existing downtown buildings that don’t meet the current code,” Bogle said. “With my background in architecture, I can help solve problems.”
About half of the commercial construction permit requests that come through Rowan County are for existing buildings, Bogle said, so helping developers and business owners understand the rehab code is crucial.
Bogle said he also advises real estate agents and people who are considering buying a building. He has an upcoming speaking engagement with the Salisbury-Rowan Association of Realtors, followed by his keynote at the city retreat.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.