Residents want board to revisit decision allowing duplexes in neighborhood

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Washington’s Board of Adjustment — if it meets Thursday night — is expected to review its decision to issue a special-use permit to allow multi-family dwellings in neighborhood of single-family residences.

The board also could consider several formal requests for it to rehear the matter.

Several residents in the West 14th Street and Summit Avenue area of the city do not agree with the Board of Adjustment’s 3-2 vote to issue a special-use permit to Luis and Valerie Taveras, who live in Brooklyn, New York, to build four duplexes on a lot between West 14th and West 15th streets. The board’s split vote was made June 14.

Those residents, some of whom voiced their concerns to the City Council in July, contend the duplexes are not in character with the single-family nature of the neighborhood.

They want the Board of Adjustment to reconsider the matter regarding the property at 294 W. 14th St.

Seven residents — Elizabeth Barnhardt, James M. Skillen, Jim Bilbro, Georgia Clagett, Barry Friedland, Tracy Warren and Melonie Grooms — have filed formal requests to have the matter reheard by the board. In her rehearing application, Barnhardt wrote: “I believe the applicant’s plot plan was too preliminary and their agent’s statement regarding impacts to the neighborhood were largely conjecture. I am hopeful that a re-hearing would allow Board members to consider actual facts as evidence, supporting statements both for and against the proposed housing complex.”

In his rehearing application Skillen contends the special-use permit application filed on behalf of the Traverses did not comply with the board’s rules of procedure in regard to being placed on the board’s agenda. Specifically, he alleges the application was submitted after the deadline to be included on board’s agenda for its June meeting.

A document in the board’s agenda for its September meeting reads: “As a general rule, a board may not hear at quasi-judicial case a second time. The applicant and other affected parties must present their evidence at the initial hearing. Appeals of the initial decision may be made to the courts, not back to the Board. The City’s Rules and Regulations, however, allow for a rehearing process.”

Evidence in support of a rehearing is limited, initially, to that which is necessary to enable the board to determine at least one of two of the following:

  • new facts or evidence is available for which there was no capacity of being obtained at the original hearing that that substantially changes conditions of the case;
  • procedural rules that significantly changed the conditions of the case were not followed. No harmless error shall be grounds for granting a rehearing. A harmless error is one that would not have changed the outcome of the matter, or for which refusal to rehear does not deny a substantial right. An application for rehearing shall be denied if the board, in its records, does not find a least one of these two conditions to be true. A simple majority vote by board members present is required to grant a rehearing.

The board meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 102 E. Second St.


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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