Spencer looks at reworking ordinances amid new state mandates

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 16, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SPENCER — Interim Spencer Town Manager David Treme on Tuesday requested the town board not consider reworking its town ordinances until after it can address conflicting new state law.

Treme said he has been in touch with a number of entities, including the North Carolina League of Municipalities, and recodification of some ordinances might need to come after the town addresses changes necessary under the new N.C. General Statutes Chapter 160D. Recodification means redoing the town’s code of ordinances.

Mayor Jonathan Williams noted the new law does not affect the ability of the Board of Aldermen to make changes to ordinances which do not fall under land use. Those ordinances have been compiled by the board and through complaints from residents. And some notable problem ordinances address things like golf carts and UTVs, animals, signage, noise and parking in public areas.

“The local ones are the ones we could handle without the 160D,” said Alderwoman Sharon Hovis noting the community complaints which would fall under 160A, rather than 160D.

Treme said the two are not dependent on one another and the town can come back with a timeframe on 160D for the board’s next meeting.

Williams made the recommendation the board appoint someone to work with town staff to address ordinances. Hovis volunteered and was appointed after unanimous approval from the board.

The new chapter in the state’s general statutes that consolidates development regulations for cities and counties into one chapter.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government describes the new chapters as placing the statutes “into a more logical, coherent organization.”

It does not make major policy changes, but does include some changes that have to be worked into local regulations like keeping minutes for meetings of each town board, requiring all board members take an oath of office, extra territorial jurisdiction population estimates with each census, setting new conflict-of-interest standards and rules for quasi-judicial boards.

The university in December also released a checklist that’s more than a dozen pages long as a guide for the new law. The list is currently being updated. Local entities have until July 1 next year to make the needed changes, including those to zoning regulations, so they conform to the new chapter.

“I think it would be prudent of us to not do the recodification first,” Treme said.

He noted there are groups, including attorneys associated with the North Carolina League of Municipalities, who could help the town conform its ordinances with the new law.

However, Treme noted the town should keep recodifying in mind, and there has already been some work on the issue, but the town should consider it later.

“We feel like we have some good information to look at the update,” Treme said, adding compliance with 160D is the most urgent need for town code and the it should look to start the process early, before every municipality in the state is looking for the same services.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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