BOC com­pletes HUD deal re­quire­ments

The Covington News - - LOCAL - DAR­RYL WELCH dwelch@cov­news.com

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers com­pleted the last step needed to set­tle a com­plaint filed against the county by the United States De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment last week when all five mem­bers and Chair­man Mar­cello Banes signed an af­fi­davit cer­ti­fy­ing they had re­viewed the fed­eral Fair Hous­ing Act.

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from county Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Bryan Fazio, “the sig­na­tures were re­quired as part of a Vol­un­tary Com­pli­ance Agree­ment be­tween the county and HUD fol­low­ing a set­tle­ment agree­ment con- cern­ing needed re­vi­sion to the New­ton County zon­ing or­di­nances, stem­ming from a vote on a Con­di­tional Use Per­mit (CUP) in April 2010.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, Fan­tas­tic Fu­tures, Inc. re­quested a CUP to build a group home on Creekview Boule­vard, which is in BOC District 3. Prior to com­ing be­fore the BOC to re­quest the per­mit, Fan­tas­tic Fu­tures had the re­quest de­nied by the county’s Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, fol­low­ing the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tion of de­nial, along with sev­eral res­i­dents speak­ing out to voice con­cerns, com­mis­sion­ers voted in a 3-2 vote to deny the per­mit. Since the prop­erty was lo­cated in District 3, Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz made the mo­tion to deny the re­quest. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, the mo­tion to deny was based on the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria in the 2006 New­ton County Zon­ing Or­di­nance:

1. Com­pat­i­bil­ity with ad­ja­cent prop­er­ties, other prop­er­ties in the same zon­ing district.

2. The pro­posed use will cre­ate un­rea­son­able adverse im­pacts upon ad­join­ing land use by rea­son of man­ner of the op­er­a­tion of pro­posed use.

Ac­cord­ing to Fazio, the vote to deny the re­quest was ap­proved by Schulz and Com­mis­sion­ers Mort Ew­ing and Tim Flem­ing. Com­mis­sion­ers J.C. Hen­der­son and Earnest Sim­mons voted against.

Fol­low­ing the vote, Fan­tas­tic Fu­tures, Inc. filed a com­plaint al­leg­ing “in­jury by dis­crim­i­na­tory acts.” Fazio said the com­plaint was con­cern­ing the county’s zon­ing or­di­nances on group homes and not the de­ci­sion made by the three com­mis­sion­ers, who fol­lowed the guid­ance of the or­di­nance.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, an agree­ment was reached with the BOC agree­ing to pay $18,000 and agree­ing to up­date the or­di­nance which was at the root of the com­plaint. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, the BOC unan­i­mously ap­proved up­dat­ing the or­di­nance from al­low­ing three to six peo­ple in a group home and ex­panded the zon­ing district where a group home can be placed to in­clude man­u­fac­tured home parks, sub­di­vi­sions and mul­ti­fam­ily apart­ment com­plexes.

The sit­ting BOC was also re­quired to sign the Vol­un­tary Com­pli­ance Agree­ment from HUD to show the en­tire board was in com­pli­ance.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, the agree­ment was ap­proved in April 2016. How­ever, Hen­der­son was not in at­ten­dance.

Fazio said with the Vol­un­tary Com­pli­ance Agree­ment signed by Banes and Com­mis­sion­ers Stan Ed­wards, Lanier Sims, Schulz, and Ron­nie Cowan Aug 3 and Hen­der­son Aug 4, the BOC main­tains com­pli­ance and is not at risk of los­ing fed­er­ally funded HUD grants which amount to ap­prox­i­mately $30 mil­lion.

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