Petitions Of Citizens | Developer Woes
Not many take time to attend or listen to local government meetings, however, when our peers get up to the microphone you can usually hear a pin drop in the room.
It is always a frustrating site to see multiple residents of a neighborhood profess their displeasure with their builder- a builder many of them are still working with. One by one, residents of the Lakeview subdivision in New Bern, North Carolina built by Nolan Commercial Contractors, Inc., went on the record in recent Board of Aldermen meetings to seek help from elected politicians. A quick internet search of NCCI took me to the Lakeviewofnewbern.com website where the construction of quality homes is touted.
The full board meeting can be viewed here.
Almost an hour was absorbed in the New Bern Board of Alderman meeting on March 14, 2023 by the issue. Petitioners had four minutes each to speak to politicians and staff about problems ranging flooring, lake access, fees, power washing and bad communication to name a few. More importantly, stormwater drainage, the threat of flooding and structural complaints caught attention of Mayor Jeffrey T. Odham.
Alderman Robert Aster stated the board would continue to hear this matter. He shared with the room he had seen some of the site being discussed by citizens. He stated most complaints sounded cosmetic while a lot were structural. He asked staff if it was appropriate for citizens with structural concerns to reach out to the North Carolina Department of Insurance and License Division and was advised that would be the appropriate agency to follow up with. As far as the City government holding a builder to account in order to help residents, it was stated the political body was limited by state statute. If there is no statute which gives a city authority to regulate a licensed builder, then the city would lack authority. The local government has authority to enforce building codes in statute which are the minimum safety requirements. The local government may not pick and choose the best builders and they are granted permits when they request them. Permits will not be withheld. The city then inspects and enforces those minimum building codes which were set by the state. Inspections departments are not guarantors of permitted construction jobs. In other words, there is not assurance your home was built correctly. If local government happens to make a mistake in the inspection process, there is no liability for missing something in complying with code.
“Local inspections departments are not guarantors of perfect construction.”
The staff attorney elaborated even further on things New Bern was doing to help residents such as asking the state to triple check flooding issues and stormwater regulation. Sadly, he reports it is his believe that the state and the city have exhausted their authority in the matter. Alderman Aster questioned if the builder owned the adjacent property and was responsible for roads, stormwater and street lights and was told that was correct.
Mayor Odham came close to finishing the conversation by asking the board if they would find favor in having several alderman, city manager and inspector to visit the sites with structural and stormwater concerns. He asked that staff review the records of petitioners, addresses, and inadequacies and do all in their purview in an effort to see if there’s anything else they may to do help. The Mayor cautioned about incorrect statements made on the record.
Alderman Best reacted to a petitioner who reported a negative experience with staff. Best stated it would be unacceptable if staff were not speaking appropriately with city customers.
For anyone wondering about the process of speaking before the board of Aldermen:
Next Board of Aldermen meeting is set for March 28, 2023 6:00-8:00 pm