11/22/05 — Council votes to alter water use ordinance

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Council votes to alter water use ordinance

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 22, 2005 1:49 PM

The Goldsboro City Council wants residents to continue to conserve water, even though city officials have not yet instituted mandatory restrictions.

But residents who ignore the guidelines could find themselves with no water or a really big fine, council members decided Monday.

While recent rainfall has improved drought conditions across the state slightly, officials said there is still reason to be concerned this year and in the future.

The City Council voted Monday to adopt revisions made to the Water Shortage Response Ordinance to ensure Goldsboro is prepared in the event of more dry weather and in future drought situations.

Those revisions include higher civil fines for violation of water restrictions, administrative fees charged to violators and new language that gives city officials more freedom to act in the event of a drought, including shutting off the water of residents who do not fix water leaks within 24 hours of city notification.

Mayor Al King declared the need for voluntary restrictions on water usage at the council's Oct. 3 meeting after receiving information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that water levels at the Neuse River intake were unusually low.

Since then, council and city officials have been monitoring the water levels at the Neuse, which are currently around 51 feet.

City public utilities director Karen Brashear said Friday if water levels continued to drop, she would support mandatory restrictions on water use.

Mrs. Brashear said Monday the city needs new procedures for determining when there is a need for conservation.

"I recommend we create a different mechanism for conservation measures," she said. "How can we trigger water conservation other than sinking river levels."

Mrs. Brashear said the majority of cases in which water use is abused are at apartment buildings and other rented property. She added that often, minor plumbing leaks can lead to high usage.

The city is still asking residents to be conservative with the water supply.

Mrs. Brashear offered tips for conservation of water including checking garden hoses, faucets and pipes for leaks, turning off the water when brushing teeth and shaving and taking shorter showers.

In other business, council discussed condemnation of a dilapidated building.

The home, which is unoccupied, is located at 302 John St., and is owned by Dr. Vernon Mangum, 85, and his wife, Dr. Virginia Mangum.

Goldsboro Chief Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra said the house was originally inspected on Oct. 3, 2002, and was declared uninhabitable.

On the exterior of the home, there was rotting wood, structural damage and open areas that exposed the interior of the home, Cianfarra said.

Inside, the conditions were worse, he said. The amount of mold and mildew throughout the house had contributed to the rotting floor boards and water damage on the ceilings. Additionally, due to the amount of asbestos, Cianfarra said the contractor suggested the removal of the building, while he called for the condemnation and demolition of the home.

Since the original inspection took place, Mangum said he has worked on the house nearly every day, attempting to bring it up to code.

In February, the City Council asked Mangum if he would be willing to hire a contractor or subcontractor to assist him in bringing the house up to the minimum housing code standard, Councilman Bob Waller said.

However, Mangum took no action during this time period, and he decided to continue to work on the house independently.

On Monday, Mangum addressed the council before the vote on condemnation was taken and asked for an extension.

The council complied with his request, granting a 90-day extension to bring the house up to code.

If Mangum is able to bring the home up to the minimum housing standard within 90 days, then he could continue to work on the home independently. However, if he is unable to complete this task, Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen said Mangum could seek the assistance of a historical preservation society to take the home and bring it up to code.

Otherwise, the city will condemn the home and demolish it.