GREENSBORO, NC -- The city of Greensboro is apologizing to Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman after citing her for violating an ordinance she helped craft and pass last year.
According to Barbara Harris, the city's director of Neighborhood Development, Hoffman's two buildings in the Downtown Central Business District are in violation of the code. But she said the city did not issue the councilwoman a warning, as dictated by the ordinance, before citing her.
"There are several missing window panes, some cracked window panes and some openings that have served as doorways that aren't fully covered at this time," Harris explained while standing in front of one the buildings located at 109 W. Lewis Street.
Hoffman bought that building, along with a nearby one at 534 South Elm Street, in October of 2013.
"They were bought in the condition that you see them in today," Hoffman said. "We have been working through a plan of total renovation and use for these buildings. That really just takes some time."
Hoffman has other properties in downtown Greensboro and she says those properties also went through a similar renovation process; specifically, the one at 305 South Elm which she says took 24 months to transform from a dilapidated to now a bookstore and luxury apartments.
"I don't know what possessed them to issue these violations but there's no way they should have done it. You don't punish people who are trying to improve your city," said Gary Brame.
Brame's business shares a wall with one of the buildings now in violation. He says for the eight years he's occupied the space, the building next door has been vacant. "Anybody who will come down here and buy and preserve and restore one of these buildings deserves credit. I don't care if is Nancy Hoffmann or Donald Trump."
"We apologize, we were in error. We acted prematurely in issuing a notice of violation and we will correct that immediately," Harris said.
Jim Simpson, who owns a lock and key business across from the Lewis Street buildings says he always supported the ordinance but is disappointed the Hoffman wasn't in compliance.
"She should have stepped forward and set the example for the rest of the people downtown and fixed her buildings. I don't know who else has fixed their buildings but I know we've fixed ours," Simpson said, adding that after receiving a notice last summer about the ordinance taking effect, he quickly fixed windows on his property. They had been boarded up since 1960, he said.
Because of the historic designation of the buildings, Hoffman says she's only allowed to put in specific types of windows and doors which could take some time; however, she plans to put in temporary ones so she can comply with the ordinance within the next 60 days.
According to the city of Greensboro, five warning letters have been issued to downtown property owners since the Good Repair Ordinance went into effect last year.
Two of those "warnings" are for Councilwoman Hoffmann's two buildings.
"Mistakes happen and we move on. We fix it," she said.