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July 10, 2015

NEW SMART PHONE APP ALLOWS CATAWBA COUNTY CITIZENS TO REPORT POSSIBLE CODE VIOLATIONS ONLINE

 

Catawba County’s Technology staff have created a new smartphone app that allows citizens to report possible violations of County Code, such as abandoned and junked vehicles and illegal trash dumps outside of the Blackburn Landfill, through the Internet.

The new app is available at http://www.catawbacountync.gov/ue/code.asp. Users should click on a button at the bottom of the page. Although a desktop or laptop computer will run the app, it is designed to be used with smartphones and tablets. Photos of a possible violation may be sent with a report via smartphone or tablet, but cannot be sent through a computer.

“I work across the county every business day to investigate complaints about possible code violations,” said Kim Sue, one of two Code Enforcement Officers who handle such complaints. “I had the idea that it would be helpful to citizens if we had a smartphone and tablet app that would let citizens send in their complaints and concerns without having to go through the process of calling our office and waiting until we are able to call them back. I’m pleased that the app is now online.”

Those who open the new app will first see a map of the county and its largest roads generated by the Geographic Information System (GIS). Below the map is a box with six icons with buttons that may be used to report possible violations.

A user may type in the address where the possible violation has occurred in a box above the map or, if their smart device has a GPS locator, can press a “Find Me!” button to show their location on the map. That location will appear on the map, showing an overhead photo of the site from the GIS system. Once the correct location for the possible violation is on the screen, the person reporting the situation may use one of the six buttons below the map to send in their report.

The person seeking to report a possible violation would just tap on the property on the map screen and then tap on the button for the possible violation he or she wishes to report. That will bring up a screen where the reporting person will be asked to provide more information. Photos of the possible violation taken with tablets or smart phones may be uploaded with the report.

One of the buttons allows for the reporting of solid waste management violations such as solid waste dumped on the property. Garbage may be legally disposed of at the Blackburn Landfill or convenience centers, or in proper containers at curbsides for pickup by solid waste collection vehicles. A second button may be used to report possible violations of the County’s Abandoned and Junk Vehicles Ordinance, which applies to untagged, deteriorating or immobile vehicles.

A third button may be used to report possible violations of the County Zoning Ordinances, which would involve an activity taking place which is not allowed under the zoning regulations on the property where the violation is observed. Another button may be used to report possible erosion control violations, which are violations of regulations to prevent runoff of soil and contaminants into water supplies. The fifth button is for reporting of possible solid waste franchise violations, which would involve a company other than the County’s solid waste franchisee, Republic Services, providing solid waste service. The sixth button is labeled “Other” and may be used to report concerns of other kinds.

“Once we receive reports online, we will begin an investigation into the issue,” Kim said. “We are only able to take action where State law and the County Code give us grounds to do so. It is important for those reporting possible violations to remember that submitting a report does not necessarily mean an enforcement action will occur.”

For more information on Catawba County’s new Code Compliance Reporting App, you may call Kim Sue at 828-312-5710 or Arjun Dongre at 828-465-8397 or email adongre@catawbacountync.gov.