Minimum housing standards before Manteo’s commissioners Wednesday

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

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On Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 at 6 p.m., the Manteo Board of Commissioners opens its first regular Wednesday evening meeting of the new year.

A couple of public hearings are scheduled on planning amendments to the town code. After public comment, the two amendments will be discussed under new business.

The first public hearing and possible action will consider removing the affordable housing ordinance, which appears to be Chapter 4 in the town’s code. The action is recommended by the town’s planning board in action taken at that board’s Nov. 14 meeting and by town staff.

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As specifically mentioned in the presented document, the “town desires to amend the Town Code and the Town’s Zoning Ordinance to remove provisions providing for increased density bonuses for certain projects with inclusionary housing;”

The second amendment is a 20-page document dealing with minimum housing standards. The town’s planning and zoning board at its Dec. 12, 2023, meeting recommended adoption of a minimum housing standards ordinance. Staff is also recommending approval of this zoning text amendment.

In the opening paragraphs, the town acknowledges the existence in the town’s planning jurisdiction occupied dwellings “that are unfit for human habitation and are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety to the people of the Town.”

In the town’s code, under Chapter 22 titled Environment, the new minimum housing standards ordinance will be found if adopted. The proposed ordinance is available for review in the agenda packet for the Board of Commissioners for the Jan. 3, 2024 meeting at the town’s website,

A building inspector will enforce the minimum standards. The town lists two building inspectors on its website.

Section 22-132, the Definition Section, has 28 definitions, including deteriorated, dilapidated, dwelling, infestation, occupants, operator, owner, rubbish, unfit for human habitation, etc. A definition of “Public Authority” shall mean the Town Housing Authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the town or of Dare County or the State of North Carolina relating to health, fire, building regulations or activities concerning dwellings in the Town.”

Following the three pages of definitions, minimum standards of fitness for dwelling and dwelling units are succinctly spelled out in two paragraphs.

What follows are minimum standards for structural condition; for basic plumbing, heating and electrical equipment and facilities; for ventilation; for space, use and location; for safe and sanitary maintenance; and for control of insects, rodents and infestation.

Minimum standard applicable to rooming houses states that “all provisions of this ordinance, and all of the minimum standards and requirements of this ordinance shall be applicable to rooming houses and …”

Responsibilities of owners and occupants are sorted in Section 22-141.

The draft of the ordinance spells out the powers and duties of the building inspector. An “inspection department” may make periodic inspections only when there is reasonable cause to believe that unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous or unlawful conditions may exist in a residential building or structure.

Procedures for enforcement take two and a half pages to spell out. When a petition is filed by a pubic authority or at least five residents of the town charging a dwelling is unfit, and the building inspector concurs, the inspector prepares a complaint which is served on the owner. The complaint sets a date for a hearing within 10 days. Options are spelled out. If the owner fails to comply, the building inspector can shut the place down and take other measures, including demolishing the building.

Methods of service of complaints and orders are made in person or by registered or certified mail. Additional notices to affordable housing organizations are required for a minimum period of 45 days before removal or demolition.

The cost of repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or demolition by the building inspector shall be a lien against the property in question.

An appeal from the orders of a building inspector may be made to the Manteo’s Board of Adjustment and then to Superior Court.