Board of Adjustment tells BACD and homeowners - Call us in two months with a compromise!

After a nearly two-hour Board of Adjustment hearing, the panel voted to not make a final decision on this case. BD's head is still spinning around trying to put his arms around not only the decision, but the steps that led up to it. We promise a longer post after we've had time to figure out how to properly explain it to you.

BD can tell you much of the discussion centered on how much consideration is given to the claims by any CD over construction and design issues versus the property rights of the homeowner, how much the City allegedly ignored the rules to approve the property, or how much the homeowners were actually and truly in compliance with the code and damn the opinion of some aggressive residents.

The complete meeting soundtrack is posted at this link. The last 20 or so minutes have the discussion over the three motions listed below. They are worth a listen.

After the testimony, the rebuttals and the closing arguments, the panel members called for different motions, one after the other. To pass a motion, a vote of four of the five members was required. The application would fail if the panel took no action at all.

Motion #1 - Grant the applicant's request to reverse or modify the decision of the building official? Vote was 3 against, 2 in favor, so the motion failed.

Motion #2 - To send the application back to the building official to be solved to everyone's satisfaction. Vote was 3 in favor, 2 against, so the motion failed.

The last motion came out of nowhere, and it was made without asking either the BACD, the homeowners or the building officials if they wanted this idea presented. The (city's) attorney for the panel said it was a legal motion, so they moved on it...

Motion #3 - To hold the case under advisement until the panel meets in February and let the parties present a five-minute report on a compromise. This only required a simple majority. It passed 3 - 2.

And that was how the meeting ended. BD is not exagerating when he is saying everyone walked out of the Council chambers stunned. We are talking eyeballs-wide-open-mouths-dropped stunned. For the moment, no one could think of any other decision like this one.

And there are so many questions to throw into the discussion

  • Is the building permit still valid and active?
  • When is a compromise considered impossible, and who gets to call game over?
  • How much is this delay costing the City, the homeowner, the neighborhood residents, and who pays for it?
  • How much power should a Conservation District have in telling Building officials what to approve?
  • Should the opinion and decisions of City Staff have more weight than the opinion of people in a Conservation District when it comes to design compliance issues?
  • Can construction start again? And if it does, then what happens?

Since many of the decisions regarding what to do next won't be made for days or even weeks, BD is going to take his time writing a proper summary of the hearing. But, go listen to the tape, it's worth it.

By Avi S. Adelman under Neighborhoods , Lower Greenville