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Spencer appoints two more code officers to deal with housing issues

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SPENCER – The town of Spencer recently appointed two more code officers to help get Spencer’s deteriorated and dilapidated structures up to code.

Dennis Pinnix and Curtis Gaulden, independent contractors from State Code Enforcement Inc. out of Greensboro, were appointed on Nov. 21. They will be supervised by Troy Powell, land management director, and work alongside Jeremy Bates, another code enforcement officer, to gain voluntary compliance.

The Spencer Board of Aldermen approved a new housing ordinance for the town at a meeting in November. The ordinance includes detailed and expanded definitions for property maintenance standards and works to stop houses from getting to a deteriorated or dilapidated state.

At the meeting, Powell said the changes were based on the Broken Windows Theory, which states that “one broken window, left unrepaired, leads to more broken windows as it gives the appearance that no one cares for or protects the property; that building becomes increasingly more deteriorated, and that the deterioration may have a ripple effect on other parts of the neighborhood.”

“Bringing attention to those (houses) is going to increase the marketability of the town,” Powell said at the meeting.

The minimum housing standards aim to repair and get rid of unfit and/or unsafe housing conditions, which can lead to fire hazards, accidents or unsafe or insanitary conditions.

Under the new ordinance, property owners are now required to submit their vacant structures to the town’s Vacant Structure Inventory List.

The list will help the town keep up with where vacant structures are and whether they are just vacant or have code violations that need to be addressed.

The list can also help the Spencer Police Department look out for criminal activity.

“It also allows the police to pay particular attention to vacant structures where people may prey on a vacant house to damage or commit criminal activity within it,” the town stated in a press release.

Damaged houses that will not be immediately repaired must be boarded up, but cannot be boarded up for more than two years. After the first six months, property owners must either have started repairs or present code enforcement with a plan to repair the structure. Code enforcement may grant extensions.

Mayor Jim Gobbel said at the meeting that the new housing ordinance for the town was long overdue and will help clarify the gray areas of the former ordinance.

Pinnix and Gaulden will be the only two employees from State Code Enforcement Inc. performing work in Spencer. They will only be allowed to evaluate the houses that Powell assigns to them.

The vehicles they drive will have Spencer’s town logo and their company’s name on them and they will also have town-issued identification.

“We are wanting to assist the town of Spencer in creating a cleaner and safer environment in which the citizens can live, work and raise their families,” Pinnix, owner of the company, said.

He said he and Gaulden, field supervisor, have started some initial investigations on vacant properties and they will be back in Spencer to inspect some rental houses on Thursday.

Pinnix said Spencer seemed like a “quaint town” with a lot of history.

“A lot of things can be salvaged there,” he said.

Gaulden said he enjoyed what Spencer had to offer, including bringing his children to the Polar Express Train Ride at the NC Transportation Museum.

He said there are some houses that need some work, but he is looking forward to digging in.

“I think it’s going to be great,” he said.

The housing code is available online at www.ci.spencer.nc.us on the Land Management Department’s page. For more information, contact the Land Management director at 704-633- 2231 Ext 28 or email at LMDDIR@ci.spencer.nc.us.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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