The Enforcement of Ordinances – If Only A ‘Enforcer’ Code Ring From A Cracker Jack Box Would Do The Trick

You wouldn’t be keeping me company on Main Street if you weren’t interested, hopeful, and slightly addicted to architecture – commercial and residential. Above all else, you are a member of the cheerleading squad for the revitalization of Rocky Mount. Those of you who grew up here are the wind under the sails of people like myself who have joined you. Your memories, the stories you tell, the families that raised you, the streets you grew up on, have captured my imagination and heart. I will admit that my breath is taken away when someone says to me, ‘nothing will change.’  I have to pick myself up and start again.  Someone has written on Concerned Citizens that the downtown should be bulldozed flat. They aren’t reading this blog or they would know how vital the preservation of Main Street is to a sense of place that people are looking for when considering relocation.

We could talk late into the night about WHY ordinances have not been regularly enforced across the board, and who is responsible. For the sake of this discussion, let us say that the more we have come to recognize the value of preservation, restoration, and repurposing, we realized that the lack of enforcement has cost us dearly. I want you to think about what continues to be critical in saving the remaining commercial architecture in the historic downtown district. Please read through the two paragraphs below and get a feel for what is supposed to be protected and enforced. Anyone with walking around sense knows that the longer the neglect continues, the more costly and difficult saving the buildings becomes. Let’s see where this takes us with several more posts about this subject.

Demolition By Neglect:  Sec. 5-135. – Standards.

The exterior features of any building or structure located within the Central City Historic District shall be preserved by the owner and/or parties in interest against decay, deterioration and structural defects. The owner and/or parties in interest shall upon written request of the city repair such exterior features if they are found to be deteriorating, or if their condition is contributing to deterioration, including but not limited to, any of the following defects:

2nd Story Broken Glass Along Main Street

(1) Deterioration of exterior walls, foundations, flooring, carpet walls, roofs, beams, chimneys, and either horizontal or vertical load-bearing supports that cause leaning, sagging, splitting, listing or buckling; (2) Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs, and foundations, including broken windows/doors, failed paint, leaking roofing, decayed brickwork or failed siding materials; (3) Rotting, holes and other forms of decay; (4) Damages caused by fire or other calamity; (5) Deterioration of exterior stairs, porches, handrails, window/door frames, cornices, entablatures, wall facings or other architectural details that cause delaminating, instability, loss of shape or crumbling; (6) Deterioration of fences, gates, garden walls or accessory structures; (7) Deterioration of any exterior feature that creates or permits a hazardous or unsafe condition to life, health or other property.
Boarded up windows and street barricades are allowed if they are painted a similar color to the remaining exterior facade.          (Ord. No. O-2009-126, § 1, 12-14-09)

PS: If you aren’t following the new Facebook page –Main Street Rocky Mount, I invite you to do so. Learning to speak Main Street is imperative. I love this new endeavor. I hope you will too.


2 thoughts on “The Enforcement of Ordinances – If Only A ‘Enforcer’ Code Ring From A Cracker Jack Box Would Do The Trick

  1. Let me say for the 100th time strong examples of downtown restoration and revitalization abound throughout America’s small towns. Hundreds of successful models of what and how to do it exist in every state; those small towns and cities are willing to share the experience and knowledge gleaned from their projects to help Rocky Mount save downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. I think only fools and thieves would fail to accept the help of others far ahead in the business of revitalization through restoration.

    It is time Rocky Mount admits it has a colossal problem with its city administrators, city council and some of its citizens. The graft and corruption have overtaken common sense—and most of you sit and engage in obtuse discussion of racism while your valuable and important architectural heritage rots before your eyes. How much longer will you as taxpayers continue to listen to the useless rhetoric of white/black, rich/poor used to cloud the real facts. Wake up the once beautiful and proud Main Street you all remember and talk about lies in ruin!

    Why? Lack of enforcement of basic codes and long overdue taxes that remain unpaid. Make no mistake about it—CERTAIN council members own some of the rotting buildings along with numerous “OLD” Rocky Mount families—all of whom have the financial ability to repair the structures and pay their back taxes.


  2. The problem with enforcement is accessibility. The fire department must get in to inspect and the owners get around that by not showing up or not making the building accessible to them. Ordinances need to be passed that after 30 days past the inspection date the appropriate authority can forcibly gain access. The absentee owner knows these tricks and in impoverished cities the powers that be are often enticed to look the other way.


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