Published 12:07 pm Saturday, September 29, 2018

To the Editor:

The Town of Franklin has a Board of Zoning Appeals. This board is made up of one representative of each ward and an at-large member, or seven members. The City Council recommends the appointments and the Southampton Circuit Court makes the appointments.

Our current members are: Bobby Tyler-At large; John Marshall-Ward 1; Walter Hobbs-Ward 2; Alverce Holloway-Ward 3; Morris Everette-Ward 4; Beverly Meyers-Ward 5; and Jamie Weist-Ward 6.

The duties of this board are to: “Hear and decide appeals to the zoning ordinance for administrative reviews, variances, Special exceptions and Interpretations of the zoning ordinance.”

A group of citizens came in front of the City Council to object to the dormitory housing [of] Southampton Academy international students in [an] RO-only zone. This dormitory houses 15 or 16 students and two guardians at 313 Meadow Lane. One of those orators at that initial meeting of the City Council is the head of our Planning commission with 30 years’ experience. He was against this dorm, in an RO zone. Presumably his credentials were valid.

Subsequent to that meeting, three separate requests were made by the citizens to get a hearing in front of that board. They were denied access by the Department of Community Development. This group has been forced to hire a lawyer in the hopes to gain access to that board and have that board rule on the interpretation of the zoning ordinance in dispute.

The above is a statement of facts and I have a few thoughts that pertain to those facts.

Why would our city employees fail to allow a legitimate complaint to move forward under the process that is part of city structure to handle these disputes? It seems as though they are acting as they know best instead of following the city guidelines.

Another obvious caveat is that if the “dormitory reasoning” is correct, then anyone can put up a halfway house, a house of ill repute, or any other thing, when and where they want, in an RO-zoned area, under the guardianship ruse. Would it not be in the city’s interest to allow the board to review the statute and recommend a way to close this loophole? Lastly, and what really irks me, is that it appears that a fiefdom rules and this is not the best interests of the citizens of the city, nor the City itself.

Bob Trainor