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Code Enforcement presents restructuring plan to BDC

Building plans heads togetherCHARLOTTE – Mecklenburg County’s Code Enforcement Department is reorganizing its inspector teams in order to target complex inspection projects and to align teams with state building codes.

Jeff Griffin, manager of the department’s north inspection team, and Steve Pearson, manager of the department’s south inspection team, last week presented to the Building Development Commission a concept for a new structure. The BDC advises the Code Enforcement Department, and commission members approved the department going forward with implementing the new structure.

Jim Bartl, director of the Code Enforcement Department, said the new structure would allow inspectors to concentrate on either residential or commercial development, which are increasingly being regulated differently under state building codes. The change also would take into consideration the increased number of multifamily projects being built. However, Bartl said it’s hard to predict when the current multifamily boom will end.

In the first phase of the reorganization process, the department plans to devote a group of inspectors to inspect high-rise buildings and multifamily projects that are more than five stories tall or are podium structures. Podium structures are wood-framed apartment buildings on top of concrete parking garages that are a maximum of one story above ground and one story below ground.

The new group, named the mega team, would be made up of 12 inspectors who are already on staff, including four building inspectors, four electrical inspectors, two mechanical inspectors and two plumbing inspectors. Bartl said the mega team should launch in June.

“The challenge is identifying exactly the mega load,” Bartl said, because the department has yet to define what, specifically, qualifies as a mega project under the new structure.

The department currently has 82 inspectors who are on either a north team or a south team, and the department’s long-term plans include reorganizing those teams as well.

Under the existing structure, the north team handles inspections in the northern half of the county and the south team handles inspections in the southern half.

But in the second phase of the reorganization plan, those two teams – minus the inspectors who would already be on the mega team – will be reorganized into a commercial team and a residential team. Inspectors on the commercial team would focus on commercial buildings other than those handled by the mega team, and inspectors on the residential team would focus on single-family homes and duplexes.

Bartl said the state’s commercial and residential building codes are becoming very different from one another, and that the new structure would make it easier for inspectors to learn and apply the codes because they’ll be able to focus on exclusively commercial or residential codes.

Also in the second phase, the mega team would take on assembly projects, such as churches, theaters and arenas, that are larger than 100,000 square feet and mixed-use projects that are larger than 200,000 square feet.

Griffin said the third and final phase of the plan would merge the mega inspection team with a mega plan-review team.

The second and third phases will launch in the next nine to 18 months, and the final structure would include 12 inspectors on the mega team, 19 inspectors on the commercial team and 51 inspectors on the residential team.

The Code Enforcement department will present an updated plan at the BDC’s meeting in May. Bartl said last week the department had a little more homework to do, but that any changes to the existing restructuring strategy should be minor.

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