Lawyer Responds to Zoning Issue

RIDGEWAY (Oct. 20, 2016) – As the battle over a rezoning request for .82 acres at the fork of highways 21 and 34 continues to unfold, Mayor Charlene Herring reported during the Oct. 13 Town Council meeting that the Town had received a response from attorney Danny Crowe to questions that arose after Council last month nixed that request on second reading.

Herring said that, according to Crowe, “Zoning ordinance sections 1005 (Protest) and 1007 (Minimum Area for New Districts) are valid laws. The rezoning requests from R1 to C1 that we received were invalid. Thus the council at our next meeting must nullify the voting on C1, we must have first reading on C2 and (we) must vote to send the request for rezoning from R1 to C1 back to Planning for consideration, with a public hearing, with public notices and postings.”

Russ Brown’s request for rezoning from R1 to C2, which cleared the Planning Commission 5-2 on July 12, was amended by Council at their Aug. 11 meeting to a C1 request. That amended request passed first reading 3-2. Second reading, which came on the heels of a formal protest by nearby property owners, failed 1-3.

During the public comment portion of the Oct. 13 meeting, Brown called Council “a kangaroo court held in a banana republic,” and added that, regardless of Council’s decision he could clear the lot.

“If you remand and approve the rezoning request, you will actually gain a larger vegetative buffer with C1 than I am required to keep if it remains R1,” Brown said. “I’m willing to adhere to the commercial setbacks, but if denied I will return with another request for rezoning and a cleared lot.”

In his memo to Council, Crowe states that zoning ordinance sections 1005 and 1007 are “presumptively valid local laws and should be enforced, as applicable, with regard to this property.”

Because the Planning Commission recommended a change to C2, Crowe’s memo states, Council’s votes on C1 “should not have been taken.” Council, at its next meeting, should declare those votes null and withdraw them, Crowe writes.

Since Council has not acted on the Planning Commission’s C2 recommendation, Crowe writes, this needs to be placed on the agenda for a future meeting.

As Council noted during their Aug. 11 meeting, Brown’s .82 acres does not meet the 2-acre minimum requirement for C2 rezoning. In his memo, Crowe writes, “Council should request an administrative determination from the Zoning Administrator on whether the minimum area size requirement of Zoning Ordinance section 1007 applies to the Brown property for a rezoning to C2,” prior to first reading.

Crowe also said the protest to Brown’s request was valid, as it contained the signatures of at least twenty percent of the five contiguous property owners. Therefore, adoption of the zoning change would require a three-fourths vote by Council. And three-fourths of five, Crowe states, is four.

However, in a separate memo to Council, Crowe writes that, while Section 1005 does not specify a time for submittal of a protest, “submittal at the time of the Council meeting may not give the Town time to verify the requisite number of signatures and, therefore, may not be a reasonable time.”

A petition of protest was submitted to Council by Sara Robertson prior to the Aug. 11 first reading.

Council had scheduled a work session with Crowe to review the Town’s zoning ordinance on Oct. 18.

 

Comments

  1. Marcus Polk says

    Town Council is following valid laws, the protest shown to be valid, the size of the lot does not meet the zoning criteria (less than 2 acres), and Mr. Brown has to resort to name-calling? Wasn’t he on the Town Council at one time?

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