St. Pauls looks to get tighter control of landlords

By Mike Gellatly -

ST. PAULS — St. Pauls will invite local landlords to a public hearing as it looks to tighten up town ordinances for rental properties, but town officials understand the invitation might not be well received.

The town Board of Commissioners has long discussed a proposed registration program for landlords that will enable the town to more easily reach out to them and maintain standards for rental properties. The council members voted unanimously to hold a public hearing Jan. 2 on the issue, despite not be legally obliged to do so.

“Most will understand that we are seeking to get control of those who do not maintain their properties,” Town Administrator J.R. Steigerwald said. “The ordinance will be distributed to as many landlords as possible. And I wish them a merry Christmas.”

Steigerwald added the pleasantry with a smile, as he expects to get some push back from landlords about the plan to have them register with the town and pay a fee, expected to be $20 per unit, for rentals.

The ordinance will mean prospective landlords will have to provide personal information, including an email address and emergency phone contact, so the town can get in touch if problems arise. The registration information will become public record, but phone number and email contacts will not be available to the public.

Beyond the registration, the commissioners expressed concerns at the ability the town has to stop groups of unrelated people living in small dwellings, whether they are rented or owned. Several commissioners expressed a desire to tighten the restrictions of the Landlord Registration Program after it is put in place.

St. Pauls is one of the fastest growing communities in Robeson County, and the opening of the Sanderson Farms plant on N.C. 20 is expected to accelerate that growth. The plant expects to employ more than 1,000 people at the slaughtering facility.

In other business:

— The council voted unanimously to adjust the budget to buy two radios for soon-to-be-in-service ambulances. The money will come from the recent sale of town property.

— The commissioners expressed a desire to move forward in improving storm-water infrastructure. A resident, Lewis McMillan, spoke of her home suffering $30,000 damage during Hurricane Matthew because storm-water runoff from other areas pooled at her home and flooded it.

— A public hearing will be held Jan. 2. for a proposed ordinance on business registration. The ordinance would require a small fee and require businesses to keep contact information on file with the town. The ordinance is a response to North Carolina’s abandoning of business licenses.

By Mike Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-416-2413 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-416-2413 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly

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