The Fayetteville City Council met in a work session Monday and spent a majority of its time discussing American Rescue Plan Act funding and building and zoning code enforcement issues.
In addition to exploring new ways to reduce gun violence, here's what the council addressed:
American Rescue Plan Act funding
Fayetteville received $40.4 million in ARPA funding from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic, distributed in two sets in March 2021 and May 2022. At Monday’s work session, Brook Redding, a special projects manager in the City Manager’s Office, gave a presentation on how the federal funds have been spent so far and projects for the future.
The city, Redding said, has primarily invested the funding in three areas: business and economic vitality; housing and community livability; and infrastructure and community investment.
There are 40 projects in the ARPA portfolio, with two major projects completed so far and 12 more to be completed by June. In addition, 14 projects are scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2025 and 12 projects are scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2026.
Here is a breakdown of the ARPA projects planned so far, with their costs and expected completion years:
Cutting wait times for code enforcement violations
Fayetteville has an ongoing problem with code enforcement violations, with long wait times and violations exceeding that of peer cities, according to Gerald Newton, director of the city's Development Services Department. The council requested in August that staff research methods of shortening compliance time from the date the violation notice is generated.
Newton said in a presentation to the council Monday that Fayetteville managed 13,754 code enforcement cases during the last fiscal year, with 1,058 cases assigned to each of 13 staff members. This outpaced peer cities of Greensboro, which managed 9,418 cases, with 495 cases per staff member, and Wilmington, which managed 3,088 cases, with 343 cases per staff member.
Compliance time for code violations averaged 31 days, and Newton said that shortening these times through an ordinance change would help reduce violations. Other solutions include loosening restrictions on the city’s ability to quickly fix issues without going through a lot of legal steps and reducing unnecessary extensions on violations.
The City Council also asked for more information on another pressing code enforcement issue — the large number of dangerous buildings that are open and waiting to be demolished. Out of the 131 total buildings, 21 have demolition ordinances. Five buildings received ordinances in September, with six more expected this month.
Code enforcement staff members said there is an extensive process the Code Enforcement Division must undertake before proceeding with demolition, and there are some possibilities to speed this up, such as putting liens on the properties or foreclosing on them if necessary.
Council members expressed their support for these measures and suggested additional considerations, including making modifications to previously proposed strategies and creating a committee to look at code compliance issues.
The council ultimately asked the staff to develop more options based on Monday’s discussion, with an eye towards cutting enforcement times, identifying repeat violations and reducing building demolition times with legal support.
“I think everybody needs to understand that one way that we keep our community safe and vibrant and the aesthetics looking good is through code enforcement,” Councilman Derrick Thompson said. “Something needs to be done, and something needs to be done now because this process is taking too long.”
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