The predicament surrounding the arena began when Monroe Miller — the county’s leading critic who regularly lambasts commissioners at their meetings and via email on any and every topic — filed a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, decrying the lack of code-standard restrooms at the arena.
The arena had been up-and-running since 2006, when County Building Inspector Bruce Crawford granted a temporary certificate of occupancy. The building was safe — sprinkler systems were solidly in place — and the only piece of the puzzle remaining was bathrooms. Crawford signed off on the temporary permit, hoping that they would be finished in a year, tops.
In the meantime, port-a-potties were brought in for events, and there were other bathrooms on site in two multi-purpose buildings.
But then the economy began to slouch noticeably, then grind to a veritable halt, and the project — like so many others — ran out of money and the port-a-potties slowly became more permanent fixtures.
Years passed and, though the site wasn’t up to code, the general safety wasn’t in question and although the temporary permit was going on five years.
When Miller filed the complaint, the state insurance department in turn called Crawford and quizzed him on the temporary permit, which Crawford was then forced to withdraw.
According to Crawford, the building codes are not exactly cut-and-dry. The code provision that allows for temporary permits only says they can be issued for a period of time, with no specifications about what that period may by.