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(A) Preliminary investigation; notice; hearing. Whenever a petition is filed with the Inspector by a public authority or by at least five residents of the town or its extraterritorial jurisdiction charging that any structure exists in violation of this chapter or whenever it appears to the Inspector, upon inspection, that any structure exists in violation hereof, he or she shall, if his or her preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such structure a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Inspector at a place therein fixed, not less than ten nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint. The owner or any party in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint. Notice of the hearing shall also be given to at least one of the persons signing a petition relating to the structure. Any person desiring to do so may attend the hearing and give evidence relevant to the matter being heard. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Inspector.
(B) Procedure after hearing.
(1) After the notice and hearing, the Inspector shall state in writing his or her determination as to whether the structure violates this chapter.
(2) If the Inspector determines that the structure is in violation, he or she shall state in writing his or her findings of fact to support the determination, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof an order directing and requiring the owner to either repair, alter and improve the structure; or remove or demolish the same within a specified period of time which shall not be less than 60 days.
(3) For good cause shown, and prior to the expiration of the time specified in the original order of the Building Inspector, the owner of any abandoned structure may petition the Building Inspector to allow an additional period of time to comply with the order issued.
(4) The Building Inspector may, for good cause shown, immediately issue an order granting additional time as requested otherwise.
(5) The Building Inspector shall give the owner(s) five-days’ notice of a hearing on the petition and shall issue an order within ten days of the filing of the petition for additional time. The order shall:
(a) Grant additional time; or
(b) Deny the request for additional time; provided that if the request for additional time is denied, the owner(s) shall not be subject to any penalties for violation of the original order until such time as the order of the Building Inspector has been served on him or her denying the request. Service of the order may be as follows:
1. By hand delivery to the owner(s) by the Building Inspector or his or her agent;
2. By mailing first class United States mail, postage prepaid, to the owner(s) at his, her or their address established in the proceeding (service shall be complete on the expiration of three days after depositing the same in the mails as aforesaid); or
3. By service as authorized in the Civil Rules of Procedure.
(C) Failure to comply with order.
(1) In personam remedy. If the owner of any structure shall fail to comply with an order of the Inspector within the time specified therein, the Inspector may submit to the Board of Commissioners at its next regular meeting a resolution directing the Town Attorney to petition the Superior Court for an order directing such owner to comply with the order of the Inspector, as authorized by G.S. § 160A-446(g).
(2) In rem remedy. After failure of an owner of a structure to comply with an order of the Inspector within the time specified therein, if injunctive relief has not been sought or has not been granted as provided in subsection (1) of this division, the Inspector shall submit to the Board of Commissioners an ordinance specifying the property and ordering the Inspector to cause such structure to be repaired, altered, improved, removed or demolished, as provided in the original order of the Inspector, and pending removal or demolition, to placard such dwelling as provided by G.S. § 160A-443.
(D) Appeals from orders of Inspector.
(1) An appeal from any decision or order of the Inspector may be taken by any person aggrieved thereby or by any officer, board or commission of the town. Any appeal from the Inspector shall be taken within ten days from the rendering of the decision or service of the order, and shall be taken by filing with the Inspector and with the Zoning Board of Adjustment a notice of appeal which shall specify the grounds upon which the appeal is based. Upon the filing of any notice of appeal, the Inspector shall forthwith transmit to the Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the decision appealed from was made. When an appeal is from a decision of the Inspector refusing to allow the person aggrieved thereby to do any act, his or her decision shall remain in force until modified or reversed. When an appeal is from a decision of the Inspector requiring the person aggrieved to do any act, the appeal shall have the effect of suspending the requirement until the hearing by the Board, unless the Inspector certifies to the Board, after the notice of appeal is filed with him or her, that by reason of the facts stated in the certificate (a copy of which shall be furnished the appellant), a suspension of his or her requirement would cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case the requirement shall not be suspended except by a restraining order, which may be granted for due cause shown upon not less than one-day’s written notice to the Inspector, by the Board, or by a court of record upon petition made pursuant to G.S. § 160A-446(f) and division (E) of this section.
(2) The Board shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of all appeals, shall give due notice to all the parties, and shall render its decision within a reasonable time. Any party may appear in person or by agent or attorney. The Board may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision or order appealed from, and may make such decision and order as in its opinion ought to be made in the matter, and to that end it shall have all the powers of the Inspector, but the concurring vote of 4/5 of the members of the Board shall be necessary to reverse or modify any decision or order of the Inspector. The Board shall have power also in passing upon appeals, in any case where there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the ordinance, to adapt the application of the ordinance to the necessities of the case to the end that the spirit of the ordinance shall be observed, public safety and welfare secured, and substantial justice done.
(3) Every decision of the Board shall be subject to review by proceedings in the nature of certiorari instituted within 15 days of the decision of the Board, but not otherwise.
(E) Petition to Superior Court by owner. Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Inspector shall have the right, within 30 days after issuance of the order to petition the Superior Court for a temporary injunction restraining the Inspector pending a final disposition of the cause, as provided by G.S. § 160A-446(f).
(Prior Code, § 152.06) (Ord. passed 9-8-1994)