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New BoA soldiers on, despite concern

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

With two member appointments outstanding, the new Board of Adjustment held its first meeting Monday, despite the concerns of a former board member.

Assistant City Attorney Brent Lloyd said that, as a rule, in cases that require a majority of votes to pass, that majority is calculated on the total number of seats on the board, even if some of those seats are vacant.

However, in cases that require a supermajority to pass – such as zoning variances and appeals – the calculation excludes vacant positions and mandatory recusals.

Lloyd explained that because most Board of Adjustment cases require a supermajority, most will assume that the board has nine members, as it does currently. (Ultimately, the board will comprise 11 members.)

Former Board Member Bryan King showed up to his first nonmeeting in more than nine years to express concern that the board is “presently in a state of confusion in the public eye.”

That confusion, he explained, was created by a conflict between city code and Board of Adjustment bylaws. He said the way Monday night’s voting would be calculated was not how it had been done in the past, and that the information about voting procedures provided by Lloyd was not made available to the public anywhere.

“The public doesn’t know who’s on first, what’s on second, or let alone what’s on third,” said King. “This meeting, in my belief, should be canceled and rescheduled after there is clarity in the public eye. Case law can suggest a way to move forward, but a reasonable person – the moms
and pops that come down here to present in front of this board – don’t look at case law. … They go to the city’s website, they look at the Board of Adjustment bylaws, and they have all sorts of conflicting information.”

King further suggested that “any and all requests for postponement be unilaterally granted.”

Board Member Michael Von Ohlen said that King “made some good points,” but compromised and extended an offer to let people postpone their cases if they were concerned about the issues he cited.

Chair Vincent Harding concurred with Von Ohlen’s compromise.

“I think with everyone being here, I think it would be unfair not to proceed with the meeting. But I do think the concerns from Mr. King are valid,” said Harding. He then gave people the opportunity to request postponements at the beginning of the meeting.

Though the board did grant several postponements, it held the meeting as originally planned and heard about 20 cases under the voting rules outlined by Lloyd.

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