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After nearly two years, Remedial Action Plan might come to fruition

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council will vote on whether to create an ordinance that the Housing Advocacy Commission has been working on for nearly two years.

The ordinance would create a Remedial Action Plan program, which would allow rental unit landlords to sign up for a voluntary program aimed at reducing crime on their properties.

The program would focus on reducing repeated crimes by establishing a maximum threshold of calls that can be made about certain crimes.

If the police department receives a higher number of calls than the threshold allows from a certain property, the landlord – or an assigned proxy – will be required to attend a meeting with the Salisbury Police Department and city code manager and come up with a remedial action plan to reduce the number of calls.

There are 38 possible offenses that could trigger a remedial action meeting, and the call thresholds vary based on severity. They range from homicide, which only requires one call to trigger a meeting, to gambling, which requires four calls.

Domestic violence calls will not have a threshold, so as to not discourage victims from reaching out to the police.
During its long process of vetting and refining the program’s rules, the Housing Advocacy Commission studied similar ordinances in Charlotte and Gastonia, held two public forums and consulted with the UNC School of Government.

At its June 1 meeting, the Housing Advocacy Commission voted unanimously to approve what became the final iteration of the ordinance.

Other items on the agenda include:

• merging the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment

The two boards cover similar issues and have overlapping jurisdictions. The Zoning Board of Adjustment deals with variances and nonconformities while the Planning Board deals with more routine procedure.

This means that, on average, the Planning Board meets every two weeks to discuss agenda items, while the Zoning Board of Adjustment has only had three cases in the last four years, according to Development and Code Services Manager Preston Mitchell.

At its May 23 meeting, the Planning Board voted to recommend to the council that the two boards be merged.

• hearing an update from Police Chief Jerry Stokes

In an interview with Stokes Friday, he said that, among other things, the department is planning to reorganize officer beats to better spread out the workload that each officer handles.

He said that, right now, the city is divided up into quadrants. But, after completing a calls-for-service study, the department realized that splitting those quadrants into six areas would help officers better serve the city.

“This is in keeping with our ‘every neighborhood has an officer, every officer has a neighborhood’ concept,” Stokes said. “We realigned boundaries that the officers are patrolling to try and level out that workload that they have.”

Stokes said that he will also be talking about what the department has done in the last year, in light of the fact that his first anniversary as Salisbury police chief will be July 18.

• making a motion to formerly rename the Brenner Avenue portion of the greenway

The council will consider whether to formally rename the Brenner Avenue greenway portion after community advocate William C. Peoples, who passed away in March.

The council heard a presentation about the potential greenway renaming at their May 16 meeting.

There was a 30-day window during which the public could submit comments about the proposed name change, but no comments were submitted during that time.

The official new name would be the William C. Peoples’ Jr. Walkway.

The council meets Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the City Council chambers, located at 217 South Main St.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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