Friday, April 17, 2015

Heritage House Meeting April 30, 2015, 9 Months After

The Greensboro Planning Board voted unanimously to designate Heritage House as a blighted property citing North Carolina Statute 160A-22 in September of 2014. Problem is: the City had previously seized all 177 units and locked the owners out of their homes without due process in late July.

In other words they put the cart before the horse.

Then there's this:

"§ 160A-504.  Formation of commissions.
(a)        Each municipality, as defined herein, is hereby authorized to create separate and distinct bodies corporate and politic to be known as the redevelopment commission of the municipality by the passage by the governing body of such municipality of an ordinance or resolution creating a commission to function within the territorial limits of said municipality. Notice of the intent to consider the passage of such a resolution or ordinance shall be published at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
(b)        The governing body of a municipality shall not adopt a resolution pursuant to subsection (a) above unless it finds:
(1)        That blighted areas (as herein defined) exist in such municipality, and
(2)        That the redevelopment of such areas is necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, morals or welfare of the residents of such municipality.
(c)        The governing body shall cause a certified copy of such ordinance or resolution to be filed in the office of the Secretary of State; upon receipt of the said certificate the Secretary of State shall issue a certificate of incorporation.
(d)       In any suit, action or proceeding involving or relating to the validity or enforcement of any contract or act of a commission, a copy of the certificate of incorporation duly certified by the Secretary of State shall be admissible in evidence and shall be conclusive proof of the legal establishment of the commission. (1951, c. 1095, s. 4; 1973, c. 426, s. 75.)"

According to the letter sent to homeowners it was the Greensboro Planning Board and not the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission that designated Heritage House as a blighted property. Problem is:
the Greensboro Planning Board does not have the legal authority to make that designation.As a matter of fact: there is no such thing as the Greensboro Planning Board-- no such legal entity exists.

The City could have chose the following option:
§ 160A-505.  Alternative organization.
(a)        (See note) In lieu of creating a redevelopment commission as authorized herein, the governing body of any municipality may, if it deems wise, either designate a housing authority created under the provisions of Chapter 157 of the General Statutes to exercise the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a redevelopment commission as prescribed herein, or undertake to exercise such powers, duties, and responsibilities itself. Any such designation shall be by passage of a resolution adopted in accordance with the procedure and pursuant to the findings specified in G.S. 160A-504(a) and (b). In the event a governing body designates itself to perform the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a redevelopment commission, then where any act or proceeding is required to be done, recommended, or approved both by a redevelopment commission and by the municipal governing body, then the performance, recommendation, or approval thereof once by the municipal governing body shall be sufficient to make such performance, recommendation, or approval valid and legal. In the event a municipal governing body designates itself to exercise the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a redevelopment commission, it may assign the administration of redevelopment policies, programs and plans to any existing or new department of the municipality."

There is such a thing as the Greensboro Housing Authority. As a matter of fact, GHA once owned the property we now call Heritage House but GHA is in the low income apartment rental business and has no authority over private properties.

You see, state law defines Redevelopment as follows: "The acquisition, replanning, clearance, rehabilitation or rebuilding of an area for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial or other purposes, including the provision of streets, utilities, parks, recreational areas and other open spaces; provided, without limiting the generality thereof, the term "redevelopment" may include a program of repair and rehabilitation of buildings and other improvements, and may include the exercise of any powers under this Article with respect to the area for which such program is undertaken."
State law defines Redevelopment Commission  as "A public body and a body corporate and politic created and organized in accordance with the provisions of this Article."

And North Carolina law defines a Planning commission as "Any planning commission established by ordinance for a municipality of this State. "The planning commission" shall mean the particular planning commission of the city or town in which a particular commission operates."
Now why would the State of North Carolina have different definitions for redevelopment commission and planning commission if they were both one in the same thing? The answer: They wouldn't.

Planning and redevelopment are sometimes one in the same. But sometimes they are very different. The Greensboro Planning Board doesn't understand when the two are not one in the same.

The disaster that Heritage House became was created by the City of Greensboro. Police patrols were deliberatly removed to increase the crime rates. The building was certified as structurally sound in 2007 when Heritage House residents were sold their individual units. Greensboro building inspectors signed off on inspections every year between 2008 and 2014. Dog poop and urine in the halls did not cause the roof to leak, walls to crumble and steel beams to become unable to support their loads. The vast majority of the 177 units passed inspection on the day the residents were forced to move out.

The City made the claim they were taking the property because of an overdue water bill but when you condemn a property you don't lock the owners out then go looking for some excuse you can use to justify your actions later. But that's exactly what Greensboro did.

And you don't wait 9 months to meet with homeowners who haven't been paid for the homes you stole unless you're hoping it will all go away.