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City Council wants to hear from public on housing standards

SALISBURY — City Council will hear from the public Tuesday about a proposal to toughen up the city’s minimum housing standards.
The city’s new Housing Advocacy Commission is recommending amendments to Chapter 10 of the city code. The amendments include updates to the code that have not been made since 1977 and would help the city maintain a minimum level of housing conditions that protect the public health, safety and welfare, an official said.
City Council will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 217 S. Main St.
Under the suggested amendments, the most dangerous living conditions would require near-immediate attention. Instead of the current 60 days, property owners would have 48 hours to fix the following hazards:
• Unsafe fuel containers stored inside
• Blocked exits
• Presence of raw sewage or no sanitary facilities
• No operable smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
• Accumulation of garbage inside
• Flammable or combustible items inside, such as mopeds
If owners do not address the conditions within two days of being notified, the city’s code enforcement officers could ask City Council to condemn the property. That would allow the city to close the structure and remove the tenants, said Chris Branham, Code Services Division manager.
The city also could fine property owners who do not comply, Branham said.
Also on Tuesday’s agenda:
• City Council will recognize retiring Sergeant Hayes Russell and authorize issuing his badge and sidearm.
• Mayor Paul Woodson will proclaim February as National Boy Scout Anniversary Month.
• The Salisbury Youth Council will present highlights from the past year and goals for the coming year.
• City Council will consider an application from owner Robert Moore to operate a pool hall at the Carriage Room, 2141 Statesville Boulevard, and hold a public hearing.
As part of the Salisbury Police Department’s required investigation into the site for the pool hall, police determined that Moore, who has operated one pool table for some time without problems, now wants to add a second table. The city requires a pool hall permit for establishments with more than one pool table.
A limited review of Moore’s criminal background revealed nothing that would disqualify from receiving a pool hall permit, police said.
• City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the use of 2014-2015 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Funds.
The hearing will allow comments regarding community development needs and requests for public service funding. No action by council is expected.
CDBG and HOME allocations have not yet been announced by the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development. Last year the city received about $430,000. The proposed budget and action plan will be presented to council on March 18.
• The Housing Advocacy Commission will ask City Council to reduce its board membership from 11 to nine.
The commission has been meeting actively for more than a year and has come up with recommended updates and changes to the city code. Some members have resigned from the board due to moving or work-related scheduling issues.
Nine members have consistently been present, and commission members say they believe reducing the membership from 11 to nine better reflects how they have been operating within the past 12 months and will allow them to remain effective in their duties.
• Public comments.
• City Manager Doug Paris’s comments.
• Another public session for the Innes Street and Long Street Complete Streets Corridor Study will be held from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at First Calvary Baptist Church, 432 S. Long St.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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