Commons Area and 1st Floor
The warrants have no telephone numbers on them so there was no way Elizabeth D Benton, Code Compliance Coordinator/ Inspector for City of Greensboro and her staff of building code inspectors could have called Heritage House residents to inform them of the inspections. The City has not provided records of which residents were home and which residents were away from home. My team is betting they kept no such records as the bungled the entire inspection.
Every warrant clearly states they must make reasonable efforts to contact the owner or resident of the unit. The fact that they inspected 177 units plus common areas in 6 hours with a staff of about 6 code enforcement inspectors pretty much blows that possibility out of the water. As a matter of fact: according to the times on the warrants, the entire building, all 177 units plus commons areas were inspected between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. You can bet inspectors made no efforts to contact any of the residents or owners.
Greensboro Police were on duty there to see that the inspections were done safely and that code enforcement officers were not threatened or assaulted but police are not qualified or trained to do building inspections in North Carolina. Only NC State licensed building inspectors can deem a home unsafe to live in. Having cops do building inspections would be tantamount to having building inspectors writing speeding tickets.
And remember: they had to break in and then relock any unit where no one was home. Police officers aren't allowed to posses lock picks or other burglary tools-- their specialty is knocking doors down-- are code enforcement officers allowed to possess lock picks and burglary tools?
We're not talking about a drug bust where residents might flush drugs down the drains to avoid arrest. As a matter of fact there have been zero media reports of any crimes being committed. One family was harassed by Greensboro Police for having a gun inside their home but as it turned out they had papers from where they had purchased their gun legally and were allowed to keep it. (That brings up even more questions as to how and why this so-called "building inspection" was being conducted.)
I know of one unit that was empty, currently being remodeled, not available for rent and was inspected while its owner was at home in another unit at Heritage House but that owner was not made aware of the inspection until over an hour later when the unit the owner lived in was inspected. The unit in question had received much damage from a previous renter and was completely unlivable, thus the reason the owner wasn't renting it. So the City of Greensboro punishes the owner for doing the right thing by declaring the unit and the owner's residence unfit to life in and seizing the property without taking anyone to court? For trying to fix the unit before it's rented again? This isn't an Irving Park slum lord, this person lived at Heritage House too!
The City of Greensboro wants you to believe that everyone who lived at Heritage House was paying rent and a victim of slum lords. There's 2 problems with that story: the majority of the actual slum lords are Greensboro's elite residents of North Carolina's most exclusive neighborhood, Irving Park. And the other problem is that quite a few of the residents of Heritage House actually owned and held deeds to the properties they lived in.
Then there's the issue of probable cause. From NC § 15-27.2. Warrants to conduct inspections authorized by law.
"(1) The one seeking the warrant must establish under oath or affirmation that the property to be searched or inspected is to be searched or inspected as part of a legally authorized program of inspection which naturally includes that property, or that there is probable cause for believing that there is a condition, object, activity or circumstance which legally justifies such a search or inspection of that property;"
Would your next door neighbor's house being not up to code be considered probable cause for ordering an inspection on your house? Two condos in the same building aren't naturally included as one when they belong to two separate owners with two separate deeds. I don't believe anyone reading this would try to support that argument and yet this is the argument the City of Greensboro is expecting you to believe as their excuse for searching every single privately owned home in Heritage House. Were the Code inspections department to even attempt to get a warrant to inspect any regular neighborhood in this manner the magistrate or judge would have them removed from his office.
Would your next door neighbor being a drug dealer be probable cause to search your house? The answer is the same. Heritage House is a neighborhood with individually owned homes and common areas (halls, elevators, pavilions) just like other Greensboro neighborhoods have common areas in streets and parks. The only difference is Heritage House shared a common roof and when it comes to what defines a neighborhood, the word 'roof' cannot be found in the definition:
"1. the area or region around or near some place or thing; vicinity: the kids of the neighborhood; located in the neighborhood of Jackson and Vine streets.
2. a district or locality, often with reference to its character or inhabitants: a fashionable neighborhood; to move to a nicer neighborhood.
3. a number of persons living near one another or in a particular locality: The whole neighborhood was there.
4. neighborly feeling or conduct.
5. nearness; proximity: to sense the neighborhood of trouble. "
The City of Greensboro trampled all over the Constitutional Rights of the residents and owners of Heritage House. Charles Coffey, Sonny Vestal and the Heritage House Homeowners Association robbed these people. Now the City of Greensboro is trying to cover for them. If you own property at Heritage House no matter where you live now, you may file charges online by clicking here. You don't have to live in Greensboro to use it.
Don't worry if you do it wrong, it can be fixed. The problem is the Greensboro Police Department has told sources of mine that no victims have stepped forward to press charges so supposedly they can't investigate for any crime. They have told News & Record reporters that there is currently no ongoing investigation into the events at Heritage House. Of course we all know police investigate without complaints all the time but this is their lame ass excuse so don't allow them that excuse. Then save the automatically generated return e-mail and use it to sue the hell out of the City of Greensboro if they blow you off.
And if you want to you can forward the automatic generated response to RecycleBill@gmail.comRecycleBill@gmail.com and I'll share it with the world to prove you filed a complaint.
It doesn't matter if you lived at Heritage House or not. If you were a property owner paying your dues to the HOA then you got ripped off by Charles Coffey, Nina Coffey, Sonny Vestal and the Heritage House board of directors-- filing a criminal complaint is the first step in getting your money and possibly your property back.
Locally all the blame is attempting to be placed on Sonny Vestal but even if Vestal is convicted of operating without a license, the N.C. Real Estate Commission only has the power to close his real estate business. They can neither get back your money or your homes. As a matter of fact: they caught him before and he simply changed the name of his business. It is the duty of any board to watch over the investments of its members and if the board neglects its duty then the board is culpable. Putting it nicely, Charles, Nina and the rest of the board obviously failed to look after member investments. It's called gross negligence.
And again, to file a complaint against the City of Greensboro please use this form at the American Civil Liberties Union.
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