11/17/04 — County considers housing code for rural areas

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County considers housing code for rural areas

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on November 17, 2004 2:01 PM

Wayne County officials are considering whether to adopt minimum housing standards for the first time in rural areas.

Talks are still in the preliminary stages, but if the county does so, it will gain the ability to condemn dilapidated housing and tear it down. Goldsboro and many municipalities already have those enforcement powers.

If the county is to act, it will need to hold a public hearing, which could not be held until early 2005.

Planning Board members began talking about housing standards this month during a meeting of the board's mobile home committee.

The committee was formed to investigate whether Wayne should ban older mobile homes from being brought here. Most surrounding counties have moved to prohibit either pre-1975 homes or ones that don't meet minimum appearance and safety standards.

County planner Chip Crumpler recently heard of a 1970 home that had to be moved from Topsail Island. It had ended up Wayne County because it was the closest county that didn't have a minimum code, he told the committee.

Wayne's lack of an ordinance has made it attractive for people wanting to relocate older manufactured homes, particularly to use as rental properties.

"We have had some real losers coming across the county line," said Tom Buffkin, the committee chairman.

But some citizens argued that the committee was considering a much higher standard for manufactured housing than it has for standard construction.

Ed Wharton, who owns a mobile home park, said that age should not be the determining factor for a ban. "We have some homes two or three years old that are in much worse shape than the older homes," he said.

And Joe Daughtery, who sells the homes, said the county's concern ought to be safety.

"Whether people live in a manufactured home, a trailer or a castle, we need to have minimum housing standards," Daughtery said. "If a structure does not abide by that, we need to condemn it."

The county inspects new housing to ensure that it meets the state's minimum building code, but it does not re-inspect it in following years.

Board Chairman Wayne Aycock said that a minimum housing code "would handle a lot of the appearance concerns that we hear."

At the committee's next meeting, set for Nov. 30, Planning Director Connie Price plans to present the committee with sample ordinances from other counties. The Planning Board could recommend an ordinance at its December meeting, but the county commissioners would decide the issue and would have first to hold a public hearing.

Goldsboro's minimum standards cover such areas as structural condition; plumbing, heating and electrical; ventilation; and control of insects, rodents and other infestations.