The Watch with Will Kennedy: Nuisance Properties

CHARLOTTE, NC —  They are the worst of the worst nuisance properties in neighborhoods across Charlotte. Sub-standard dwellings and commercial structures that do more than just create blight; they increase crime. But CMPD and Charlotte Code Enforcement are teaming up to bring down the worst offenders.

“We roughly demolish between 50 and 100 structures, the city does, on an annual basis,” says Charlotte Code Enforcement Manager Ben Krise.

You can find them dotting neighborhoods throughout Charlotte: nuisance properties—neglected, overgrown, rundown.

“Anytime you have those houses in an area, too many of them just kind of pile up and create kind of an environment that welcomes criminal activity,” says CMPD Captain Jonathan Thomas.

Charlotte Code Enforcement works in concert with CMPD to identify structures that threaten community safety, and in extreme cases have them demolished.

“It’s the worst of the worst, it’s the 1 percent of the cases, roughly, that we come into contact with on an annual basis that we actually have to step in and demolish,” says Krise.

The city currently has 297 residential structures, and 16 commercial buildings, listed on its website as being under demolition orders. It’s the last line of defense when citations, injunctions and liens have failed.

It is a classic example of a nuisance property. This house on Tuckaseegee Road in West Charlotte—windows are boarded up, you’ve got trash all around. CMPD was investigating drug crime inside. People breaking in. It was put on a demolish list by the city and code enforcement—scheduled to be torn down. Then a developer stepped in and put up a $45,000 bond. He’s got 60 days to fix this place up, or pay to have it torn down himself.

“What we really want is for houses to not be vacant, and to quickly be utilized for someone to live in,” says Capt. Thomas.

Members of CMPD’s Nuisance Enforcement Strategy Team and Code Enforcement inspectors often go out together, issuing violations, trying to weed out the trouble spots. It can be difficult, dealing with absentee landlords with no connection to these neighborhoods, while helping residents secure their streets.

“It goes along with every ‘broken windows’ theory of crime that we look at,” says Capt. Thomas. “When you have pride in your area, and the area looks good, it’s going to have less crime.”

Charlotte City Council approved demolishing 51 properties in 2015. Code Enforcement filed almost $378,000 worth of liens last year for costs associated with demolitions.