Red Springs to open own Inspections Department

First Posted: 9/2/2014

RED SPRINGS — The town of Red Springs voted Tuesday night to create its own Inspections Department.

The new department, which will begin inspections on Oct. 1, will be headed by Andy Connor, the town’s director of Planning and Zoning.

The fledgling department will provide buildings, plumbing, electrical and mechanical inspections — the same kind of inspections that Connor had been doing for 12 years in Columbus and Robeson counties. The town had been contracting with the Robeson County for the work.

“It should be a great convenience to the citizens and contractors because people don’t have to go Lumberton or fax information over there,” Connor said. “If someone wants an inspection done at 11 a.m., we should be able to accommodate that … whereas the county inspector can’t because he has a lot more territory to cover.”

Connor said that the money generated from inspection fees should pay for “a good portion” of his own salary. According to Connor, the Inspections Department in Raeford generates about $60,000 a year.

“I’m not asking for money for the department, I’m asking for a way to help pay my way,” said Connor, the former assistant chief building inspector for Columbus County. “There is a lot of money that has been missed here in the town of Red Springs.”

Mayor John McNeill said he has heard complaints about the current inspection process.

“The biggest thing besides dollars and cents, is service to our citizens,” McNeill said. “I’m not blaming the county, but people have gone to Lumberton only to find out there is something they don’t have and have to come back to Red Springs. You get this back and forth and it appears that it is one big bureaucracy and nobody knows what they are doing. I think this would make life tremendously easier.”

The town plans to add fire inspections when Connor is certified to do so.

A county fire inspector currently contracts with the town for fire inspections.

Town Manager James Bennett advised County Manager Ricky Harris, whom Bennett said had “no problem” with the proposal.

“I think it is a no-brainer,” Commissioner David Shook said.

In other business, the board voted to contract with the Lumber River Council of Governments to update Red Springs’ ordinances. Town officials said the last code update was in 2009.

“A prime example is the ordinance for trash containers,” Connor said. “Our ordinance calls for people to use a 30-gallon metal container with tight lids but what we actually use are 90-gallon rubber containers with flip lids. We need to bring the codes up to date.”

The town will pay the Council of Governments up to $7,500 for the work.

“This update will rule out so many issues that you have with zoning and land use,” said Jan Maynor, the council’s executive director.

The agency recently completed similar work with the towns of Wagram, Gibson and Ellerby.

“It sounds good to be,” Commissioner Eula McNeill said. “I suggest we accept what COG is offering so we can get ourselves in order and not think about what happened last year, but think about what is going to happen as we move forward.”

The board meet in closed session for about 40 minutes to talk about economic development and took no action when it returned to open session.