Friday, February 3, 2023

Carolina Beach looks to strengthen enforcement of nuisance properties

Carolina Beach is considering a change to how it manages nuisances within town limits (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY GOOGLE)
Carolina Beach is considering a change to how it manages nuisances within town limits (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY GOOGLE)

CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach could be closing a loophole that has allowed residents to avoid dealing with nuisances like overgrown lawns and other aesthetic issues.

The town’s Planning Board on Thursday will consider an update to Article II, town code that explains how the town enforces nuisances.

“Summers in North Carolina generally see prolific plant growth. Forests and gardens thrive, but so do grass and weeds. When the vegetation on someone’s property goes unmanaged it can cause a myriad of issues, the least of which being it. As a result, Article II was written to declare what would be a nuisance, dangerous, or offensive condition and how these situations would be dealt with by the Town,” according to the Planning Board’s agenda.

The main problem with the current code is the length of time it takes for the town to notify a homeowner of unkempt lawns, which is currently defined as more than 12 inches. In theory, the current system could allow homeowners to only cut grass twice during the summer months, leaving it unkempt for the majority of the summer.

“The current timeline for the abatement process may be reasonable for dealing with other nuisances, but for high grass and vegetation it is enabling negligent property owners to cut their yards once or twice during the summer leaving it as an eye-sore and creating habitat for snakes, rodents, and other pests,” according to the agenda.

Another issue with the current code is the fee schedule that is not sufficient to incentivize property owners to abate the nuisances. 

“Currently, a landowner who refuses to abate the nuisance must only pay the cost of the nuisance removal and an administrative overhead fee. They do not face a penalty for refusing to abate,” Article II states.

If approved, the proposed changes would include the placement of interior furniture outside as well. Obnoxious odors and stenches would also be added to the code.

“Any placement, storage, or use of upholstered sofas, couches, chairs or other indoor type furniture, appliances, fixtures, seats removed from motor vehicles or other such items not intended for outdoor use by a manufacturer on any open porch, carport, stoop, deck, veranda, terrace, patio or other outdoor area that is visible from nearby streets and sidewalks is prohibited,” according to the proposed changes.

The current timeline for a property owner to abate a nuisance is 15-days, the proposed changes would take that time down to 10-days from the receipt of an order, or 14-days from the posting of the notice.

Fees would also increase to double if multiple violations occurred within a calendar year. There would also be a $50 administration fee on top of the cost for the nuisance abatement. The second penalty would be $100, and the third would be $200.

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