Awaiting action: Council to consider request to allow private dormitory

Published 5:29 pm Friday, July 10, 2015

Washington’s City Council will decide the fate of a request that, if approved, would allow a private dormitory as part of a prep school for basketball players seeking scholarships to attend college.

During its meeting Monday, the council will take up the request submitted by Joe Davis Jr. During its meeting last month, the Planning Board voted 4-0 to recommend the council deny the request to amend the city’s zoning ordinances to allow private dormitories in the R9S (single-family residential) zoning districts. Davis wants to convert some the property at 1110 N. Market St. into a prep school.

Davis, who owns the NCAA-approved basketball scouting service ScoutsFocus, wants to open a post-secondary prep school that works with basketball players to improve their SAT and ACT scores and basketball skills so they can possibly get scholarships to play at the college level. The players, who would have the option of also taking classes at Beaufort Community College, would study in the mornings and receive basketball coaching in the afternoons, according to Davis. Players would pay from $7,000 to $10,000 for an academic year at the prep school, he said.

Currently, private dormitories are allowed only in the RMF (residential multifamily) districts. If the council approves the request, the city’s Board of Adjustment would have to issue a special-use permit for Davis to operate the private dormitory. A special-use permit allows for a specific exception to the zoning regulations from a list of acceptable exceptions for a particular parcel of land in a district of a particular zoning character.

During the Planning Board’s meeting, several people said the property (that once included a former Catholic church and school) opposed Davis’ request, saying the prep school and dormitory are not appropriate for the residential area. Others expressed concerns regarding supervision of those who would attend the prep school, which, if approved, would be next to a child-development center.

Davis said in its first year the dormitory — the large house next to the former St. Agnes Catholic Church — would house the prep school, about a dozen students and the instructors/coaches who would provide 24-hour supervision of the players. Under existing city codes, the house could house up to 18 people, according to John Rodman, the city’s community and cultural resources director.

The players would have a curfew at night, Davis said.

The school would have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to use of illegal drugs, illegal behavior and disrupting the neighborhood, Davis said.

The public hearing on the request begins a 6 p.m.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.




About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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