A New Look at Code Enforcement
By Anne McKay Garris
In the wee hours of New Year's Day 2010, there was a loud explosion in the vicinity of 755 Eldorado Avenue. Tenants at 755 Eldorado and the residents in the home across the back fence, tumbled out of bed to find a horrifying sight. A high-tension wire had separated and the wire was sparking and swinging wildly in the wind between the two houses, spitting fire as it moved.
The fire fighters arrived promptly, but had to wait two hours until the Progress Energy crew could arrive and cut off the current. Meantime the anxious occupants of the two houses watched the swinging wire spit fire at the wooden deck of one home, and the gas grill of the other. Fortunately neither of them made contact, so the emergency was taken care of with no damage on either side.
It did bring to light, once more, the fact that the gas grill at 755 Eldorado was located where it shouldn't be, in the utility easement between the two homes.
According to a staff report at the City's Code Enforcement Board last week, back in 2007 when the plans for the extensive remodeling of the home at 755 Eldorado were approved, the plans showed a gas grill located well away from the setback area and the utility easement behind the house. After it was installed, however, it was discovered to be in an illegal spot.
Confronted by the staff with this information, the owners applied for permission, after the fact, to vacate the easement and allow a zero setback so they could leave the gas grill and the pavers under it, to remain in place. The staff denied this.
They appealed the denial to the Development Code Adjustment Board in February of 2008. The board denied it, but the gas grill remained.
The next step was the Code Enforcement Board where it was determined that, yes, the grill was not allowed in a utility easement or a setback area, and, all avenues of appeal having been exhausted, the grill should be moved.
There the matter sat as tenants came and went, and most probably used the grill with the system of code enforcement seemingly unfollowed by anyone.
Then a new wind began to blow through the City's Planning Department. Newly tasked with code enforcement, City Planning Director Michael Delk, brought the question of the gas grill back before the Code Enforcement Board.
Board members listened as the Planning Official reported the history of the gas grill and the list of applications and denials. She explained that the approved plan for the property had the grill in a different place and the inspector missed that when making the final inspection before issuing the certification of occupancy.
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