Appeals board votes to move forward with fines against Lake Arbor ownership

Charlotte's Housing Appeals Board voted unanimously to uphold findings of facts against Lake Arbor Apartments on Tuesday which puts ownership on a path to paying civil penalties.

Lake Arbor appealed all housing code violations that were found following a FOX 46 Charlotte investigation that led to Charlotte Code Enforcement inspecting all units on the property.

The nearly 300-unit apartment complex in west Charlotte has been under the microscope for conditions ranging from water leaks to rodent infestations.

Mold is a concern for many tenants but the city does not classify mold as a violation.

A number of tenants and community organizers showed up to the appeals meeting. It was scheduled to take place at Old City Hall but the city moved the meeting across the street to the second floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center because of an unprecendented crowd size.

LINK: Lake Arbor heads to housing appeals board for violations

Civil penalties will be enforced to Lake Arbor to the tune of $100 per day for each unit that's in violation and $10 for each day following, until each respective unit is fixed.

With 186 units out of compliance, that's an initial $18,600 fine with up to $1,860 in fines for each following day that apartments are failed to be fixed.

Lake Arbor can appeal the ruling, which would go to the Mecklenburg County Superior Court, according to city of Charlotte officials.

Charlotte code enforcement's Ben Krise told city council members that, as part of a corrective action plan, Lake Arbor would have all units brought back into compliance by the end of 2018.

Lake Arbor's attorneys now dispute that claim and said that timeline was a "goal."

Lake Arbor and Broad Management have continuously declined comment with FOX 46. City leaders said it's been a struggle for them to get in contact with ownership.

"After nine months of trying to find someone to put a face to the owner I finally found the representative," Mayor Lyles said.

Lyles said attorney Scott Brown with Gunster Law Firm, based in Florida, wants to plan a meeting with her.

"He's asked that I be in the meeting and the [city] manager be in the meeting," Lyles said.

Lyles said she would like city council member LaWana Mayfield to be in the meeting, too. Councilman Braxton Winston asked to be included, as well.

Winston was present at Tuesday's appeals meeting, along with Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said "the ball is in [Brown's] park," as to when a meeting will take place.

FOX 46 reached out to Brown with a series of questions and he has not returned a response. 

Brown was at Tuesday's appeals meeting but declined to do an interview with FOX 46 and walked away when asked if a meeting was scheduled with Mayor Lyles.

"I feel like we've been at this nine months and one phone call saying, 'I'd like to meet with you,' doesn't make any difference to me," Lyles said. "I'm not really concerned about him meeting with me as much as I am him meeting with the residents who live there."

Charlotte attorney Erik M. Rosenwood with Rosenwood, Rose & Litwak, PLLC gave FOX 46 a business card and said he'd be willing to schedule a meeting.

During Tuesday's meeting, the attorneys for Lake Arbor did not rule out shutting down the entire complex.

"If that's the way that this property has to go, it's a shame for Charlotte and it's a shame for the landlord," Rosenwood said.

The attorneys were asking for an extension of time to make repairs but the appeals board Chairman said that request would not be happening.

"I would say the reason why it's taking so long is that the units were left in disrepair for a long time," Chairman Timothy O'Neil said. "If it had been taken care of properly, you wouldn't need nine months to actually get all of the apartments done. So, while I appreciate you saying you're doing everything in your power to get it right -- but it was only after you were slapped, shamed and brought before us. My soapbox has ended there."

To see more investigations on the Lake Arbor Apartment complex, click here