Permit appeal slated for Board of Adjustment

Published 8:09 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Don Stroud’s challenge of the city’s issuance of a building permit for improvements to a house being converted into 11 apartments is scheduled to be heard by Washington’s Board of Adjustment Thursday tonight.

The board meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. The board’s members are Derik Davis, Paula Nelson, Charlie Manning, Ronald Lundy, Steve Fuchs and Tim Cashion. There is a vacancy on the board.

Specifically, Stroud wants the board to overrule the issuance of the building permit, direct the city to deny the permit and direct the city, if he is successful with his petition, to issue a stop-work order. Work on the house continues, according to city officials.

If Stroud or the city is unhappy with the board’s decision, either may appeal to Beaufort County Superior Court, according to City Attorney Franz Holscher. The city hired an attorney to work with the board on the matter because Holscher represents the city.

The challenge comes after the council, during an October meeting, chose not to impose a moratorium on converting single-family dwellings in the B1H district into multifamily dwellings. About eight people in the audience supported Stroud, who contends the city’s existing zoning ordinances prohibit such conversions in that district. The council sent the matter to the Planning Board for review and a recommendation.

The house in question is at 121 E. Second St. It was sold to California-based McLean Investment Co. LLC on Aug. 28 for $171,000, according to Beaufort County deed records and other real-estate transaction records.

The city’s zoning regulations note that the B1H district is “primarily designed to provide convenient shopping and service facilities by promoting compact development of commercial, office and service uses while preserving the historic character of the district.”

Stroud’s appeal was filed Oct. 22, 2015, and amended Feb. 8. The board was unable to hear the appeal in recent months because it has not had a quorum at some of its scheduled meetings and because Stroud, an attorney who lives next to the house in question was out of the country at times in recent months when the board did meet. Further complicating the matter is that one of the owner’s, Calvin McLean, moved sometime during the past several months. As an owner of the property in question, McLean would be notified of Stroud’s petition. McLean, though not a party in the matter, has the right to attend the board’s March 31 meeting, Holscher said.

“We later learned that the property owner had moved and did not receive those notices,” Holscher told the City Council in February.

Holscher said then it is his opinion the sole issue of the amended petition is whether the zoning-administration officials’ decision to allow use of the property as a multifamily dwelling is appropriate.



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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