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GEORGE KENNEDY: Sixth Ward council race turns ugly with Tillotson accusations

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 1:30 p.m. CDT; updated 4:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 22, 2012

I was wrong again. Regular readers will understand that there’s nothing new about that. This time, though, it’s particularly painful.

Just last week I wrote that this year’s candidates for City Council and School Board were demonstrating the increasingly rare ability to disagree without being disagreeable. That seems so far to be true of those running for the School Board and the Second Ward seat on the council. But not in the Sixth Ward.

If you read Thursday’s Missourian, you know what I mean. Bill Tillotson, who is running against incumbent Barbara Hoppe with the backing of the Chamber of Commerce and the developers, has gone on the attack. He accuses Ms. Hoppe of, among other things, hypocrisy, unfairness and abuse of power.

He complains that she even got, for the East Campus Neighborhood Association, public records free of the city’s usual exorbitant charge.

As Kip Hill reported in the Missourian, the issue was the reconstruction of a fraternity house on College Avenue. The new Beta Theta Pi house was a few feet taller than allowed by city codes. The neighborhood association objected, Councilwoman Hoppe mediated, and the outcome was a payment to the association in exchange for the dropping of the complaint. You might think that was that, and all parties went away happy. Not so.

When I called Mr. Tillotson on Thursday morning, he told me he learned of the situation when a dissident member of the neighborhood association and a journalist turned public relations consultant approached him. The more he learned, the madder he got. He is “hearing rumbles,” he said, that other would-be builders are concerned. That, he said, “sent a pain up my back.”

I asked how he would have handled the issue. He said he would have gotten the council as a whole involved. A “secret deal,” he said, “smells bad.”

The unhappy neighbor is Phil Warnken, a retired MU faculty member and East Campus landlord. Warnken Properties is a $500 donor to the Tillotson campaign. The PR guy is Scott Charton, who used to cover state government for The Associated Press and in his new life has worked for the state Realtors association and the Rex Sinquefield-backed campaign against the earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City, among others. He’s volunteering his time to this campaign, he says.

Charton helpfully provided the Missourian with a two-page summary of candidate Tillotson’s argument. The summary describes Ms. Hoppe as “wearing many hats – Council member, attorney, adviser and self-interested incumbent politician seeking re-election.”

As you’d expect, Ms. Hoppe sees the situation differently. She released a statement in which she says, “I am proud to have been involved in suggesting a way in which all parties involved could win — the architect and Beta House avoided a costly lawsuit in the face of a straightforward zoning code violation. The builder was allowed to continue without further delay. With the settlement, the neighborhood association will be able to make improvements that will benefit neighbors, students and the city as a whole. Finally, the city avoided legal costs while maintaining the integrity of its zoning codes.”

The architect’s lawyer, she says, required a confidentiality agreement.

She concludes, “That is precisely what an involved, proactive city councilperson should do.”

I agree.

Ms. Hoppe’s willingness to get involved in everything from the visioning process to the eviction of trailer park residents is, it seems to me, a high order of public service. In this case, I don’t see that she did anything wrong. If I were on the council, I’d be grateful that she didn’t drag the rest of us into a neighborhood dispute. Too many council meetings run too long as it is.

There is one thing in Ms. Hoppe’s response that I question. She describes her opponent as running a “sleazy, unprofessional campaign.”

It may be sleazy, but it’s not unprofessional.

George Kennedy is a former managing editor at the Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.


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Comments

Kevin Gamble March 22, 2012 | 4:16 p.m.

Very well said, Mr. Kennedy.

It occurs to me to wonder why, if Mr. Tillotson is really interested in collaborative, transparent solutions, he didn't approach Hoppe himself, as a private resident of the ward, to share his concerns. Or approach the council in general with his concerns, rather than withholding and working with an (until now) unnamed group of collaborators to run an inaccurate attack ad just before an election.

His actions put into question his claims about how well he would handle such situations. Hoppe worked with the actual parties involved to reach a settlement; Tillotson worked with those with a professional interest in the matter to develop a personal attack against an elected official. Is that effective leadership?

That, to me, is what smells bad.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 22, 2012 | 4:30 p.m.

Kevin: It is my understanding that the building height problem was the fault of the architect and city staff. I would like someone in-the-know to confirm or reject this notion.

So, why did the fraternity have to pay? $100K is the rumor, but that's unsubstantiated. If this is true, and if it's true the architect and city were at fault for bad plans and approval, it seems to me the fraternity has cause for suit against the city AND the architect.

I also don't understand how Hoppe, acting as a public figure, could agree to a confidentiality agreement in this matter. Did the fraternity contribute all the money, or did the architect pony up, too, which is the reason for the confidentiality?

It's the secrecy that smells bad to me. Secrecy breeds uncomfortable questions about integrity, legitimate or not.

Secrecy is supported, or not supported, by posters in this place, and the only difference seems to be if the poster supports the politics and the political figure....or doesn't. That is an inconsistent posture. Either we're gonna be secret, or we're not. I think Kennedy misses the boat on this particular issue.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 22, 2012 | 4:55 p.m.

This town is too divided between the lefty progressive muleskinner greeny types and the chamber of commerce southside country club republican types.
Seems to me we need some hybrid middle of the roaders, such as a blend of the blue dog dem mentality and a "quality of life for all" repub.
The only current city council rep who seemed to come close to that is Jason Thornhill from the second ward.
Unfortunately, he's not seeking reelection.
It's really funny how city council races are supposed to be non partisan while political party mentalities influence the campaigns significantly.
We need a town where there's an association of neighborhood associations working with the chamber of commerce and developers with a city council representing all residents, investors and businesses.
It's unfortunate that people waited until Hoppe's run for reelection to vet this neighborhood association/frat/city action. C'est la vie.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 22, 2012 | 5:40 p.m.

@ Mr. Williams

Instead of asking rhetorical questions just to stir up the smear, read the news articles. Even Van Matre said that the neighborhood had the better case. Please stop pretending to ask these innocent questions, no one is buying it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 22, 2012 | 6:41 p.m.

Tim: Of course the neighborhood had the better case. Others screwed up. And, a payoff made the hurtie go away.

And, a payoff was exactly what it was.

Let's see how high you jump when a developer or a councilperson not in your favor does the same thing.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 7:31 a.m.

The term payoff implies someone profited and was motivated by greed.

Your false equivalency argument does not fly. The settlement is going towards the betterment of the neighborhood, not the betterment of Barbara Hoppe. It is unfortunately that those motivated by greed can't understand what it is to be civically engaged. They believe that everything in life is run by the profit motive. This is just a case of a cry baby landlord not wanting to play by the rules and he knows that Hoppe is looking out for all her constituents, not just the rich ones.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 8:35 a.m.

The term payoff implies someone profited and was motivated by greed.
________________________

Yes, that's an accurate statement.

(Report Comment)
Wayne Brekhus March 23, 2012 | 10:12 a.m.

Michael,

I guess I don't see how finding a compromise in order to allow a variance for a builder in violation of code who was already so far along in building that to tear down the construction would have been a major problem, is such a bad thing.

The alternatives would be to tear down much of the construction and start over, or to reward the builder with a variance at no cost for moving forward in violation of the code (in which case this would set a precedent whereby developers can simply break the rules and then get automatic permission for a variance after the fact).

My hunch given that most of Tillotson's contributors are developers and real estate management companies and given his voting record on P&Z is that Tillotson would favor the latter alternative to a compromise (let developers and real estate management company landlords break the rules and then rubber stamp any variances or exceptions to following code that they ask for after the fact when they say "oops, we know this isn't allowed but we already did it against code.")

The compromise seems like a reasonable alternative between the two extremes.

Which of the two alternatives to a compromise would you have preferred?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 10:40 a.m.

"Yes, that's an accurate statement."

______________________________________________

Find me evidence that an individual personally profited. Again you prove the point that those of the right side of the political spectrum do not understand the concept of civic duty. The 6th ward is lucky to have such a councilperson as Hoppe. The alternative is a convict with questionable loyalties and campaign tactics.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 10:53 a.m.

Wayne: You are worried about developers taking advantage if they were rewarded for ill deeds with no punishment. That's a worthy concern.

It is my understanding that the architect messed up, and the city messed up. Is this correct? If so, one question is: Who has enforcement duty here? Second, who got enforced? The architect? The city? The fraternity? Apparently, we'll never know except through the grapevine. For now, it appears that the neighborhood association did the "enforcing" by extracting or accepting a monetary offer.

The city should have brokered this deal and/or fined someone, and it shouldn't have been secret; this was a gov't job since, after all, it's own zoning code had been violated. However, the city was apparently compromised by it's own participation in this mess. Enter Hoppe.

Yes, you have a right to be concerned; this does indeed set a precedent: In the future when a developer screws up, all he/she needs to do is SECRETLY pay off the neighbors for a beautification program or somesuch. I think all this effort did was open up more avenues for mischief when mistakes are made....deliberate or otherwise.

Since when is a neighborhood group have enforcement and punishment powers when a city zoning law is violated? The city, it laid low.

This will happen again. When it does, I expect support for the broker, even if you don't like the person and/or political posture. After all, you now have precedent.

PS: There was a 3rd compromise you didn't mention; the neighborhood association should have been more neighborly, realized mistakes had been made, and gone on without mollifying themselves with beautification money that...somehow?....makes up for degradation to the neighborhood??? Any enforcement activity should have been the responsibility of the city, compromised tho it was. And it shouldn't have been secret. The city's zoning laws were violated, and any remedy should be done within the light of day.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 11:01 a.m.

Tim: No "person" profited, although whoever does the beautification will certainly profit. Hopefully, an outsider to the neighborhood will be hired to do the work.

The "someone" in this instance was the neighborhood association...apparently the legal "enforcement" body for this particular neighborhood when city zoning laws are violated. They are easily mollified by money when harmed.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 11:31 a.m.

Darn the neighborhood wanting to beauty their neighborhood to offset the awkwardly tall frat house.

Mike said "No "person" profited, although whoever does the beautification will certainly profit. "

You should ask Dave Griggs how to profit from truly secret deals.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 12:16 p.m.

Tim says, "Darn the neighborhood wanting to beauty their neighborhood to offset the awkwardly tall frat house."
___________________

Hey, it's your precedent. City zoning violations can now be remedied by private money deals, and the city doesn't even have to get involved. All it takes is enough money on the part of the irritant to sooth the irritated.

Way cool.

I can even think of other situations where this might work....private deals to stay out of trouble and make the complainer go away. There's so many possibilities!

And, of course, many in favor of this particular messy outcome will be on-board purely in the name of intellectual honesty....either that, or the Missourian archives will help identify any...um...inconsistencies.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 23, 2012 | 12:32 p.m.

("Tim says, "Darn the neighborhood wanting to beauty their neighborhood to offset the awkwardly tall frat house.")
Awkwardly tall buildings seem to be the new norm for the greater downtown "District."
No amount of money will offset the eventual claustrophobia and wind tunnel effect many of us will be feeling as we over develop areas around MU.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 23, 2012 | 12:38 p.m.

The problem is that the ordinance is a city ordinance and not a neighborhood ordinance. You should not be able to circumvent a city ordinance by paying off one neigborhood. Having said that, if this was an honest mistake by the builder/architect and we are not talking about a huge variance, I am not sure I would have forced the demolition either...

(Report Comment)
Wayne Brekhus March 23, 2012 | 12:50 p.m.

Michael,

Thank you for answering my question about what alternative you would prefer. What you call a "3rd compromise" that the neighborhood should have just rolled over and been unilaterally neighborly without a reciprocal expectation of neighborliness from the developers who violated code, and without getting anything in exchange for agreeing not to fight a variance to existing code, sounds almost identical to what I called the "2nd alternative" which is to simply let developers break the rules and then rubber stamp any variances or exceptions to their following code after the fact when they say "oops, we know this isn't really allowed, but we already did it against code, so can we just get an 'oops my bad' variance and do what we've already done anyway." I don't see that as a compromise since it would, in effect, ask neighborhoods to simply unilaterally surrender to developers who violate code, rather than find a mutually agreed upon bilateral solution. But it is, I think the kind of "compromise" that the folks running the negative ad campaign favor.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 23, 2012 | 3:30 p.m.

Ray Shapiro said: "Awkwardly tall buildings seem to be the new norm for the greater downtown "District."
No amount of money will offset the eventual claustrophobia and wind tunnel effect many of us will be feeling as we over develop areas around MU."

Eh, I'm biased because of where I grew up, but I prefer tall buildings and that city "look," especially since we're in mid-Missouri and there's nothing on the horizon. Obviously the buildings would have to be aesthetically pleasing and all, not just a bunch of concrete pillars like the parking garage downtown. <_<

I'm also biased because virtually every small town I've been in looks identical. There is always that one street that makes me think I'm just driving down the Business Loop. Quite the "bleh" experience.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan March 23, 2012 | 5:01 p.m.

Michael says, "Hey, it's your precedent. City zoning violations can now be remedied by private money deals, and the city doesn't even have to get involved."

You'd prefer that the City prosecute the offender?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 5:42 p.m.

Wayne: Yes, the architect violated code, and I guess the workers did, too.

You didn't mention the city's role in this, tho. I wish to hear your take on it.

A zoning code was violated. This was not a neighborhood code violation, it was a city code violation (MikeM mentioned this, too). When the neighborhood settled, it set a rather bad precedent wherein areas of the city can negotiate with those committing code violations and leave the city out of it. Is this a good thing?

The city should have taken care of this, not the neighborhood association. The association did the correct thing by reporting the violation, and Hoppe did a good thing by putting a stop to building activity. Everything after that was a mess. The mess involved, in part, (1) a city that abrogated ITS obligation to enforce its own zoning rules, and (2) a city council member who brokered or blessed (I don't know which) a confidential deal between two conflicting parties that involved an exchange of money to make the problem go away. Any exchange of money...a penalty...should have been exacted BY THE CITY and been brokered BY THE CITY and, if the city wished, given that money to the neighborhood association for beautification. I might even have accepted the confidentiality part of it if the city had done it, but I'd have to think hard about that (I've not done so, yet).

I have no reason to believe Hoppe had anything but a pure heart in this (others may differ), but I don't think she or the city or the neighborhood association behaved properly in all this.

And, we'll have this argument again....of that I have no doubt. Perhaps the same people supporting this deal will support a private deal between citizens/developer where money is exchanged in another area of Columbia to make the citizen complaint go away....or not. I think the latter, but that's just my gut feel.

In this case, I admit I believe one side of this argument is a good example of blind-agreement with a favored politician. Folks are talking themselves into agreeing with something that, if done by an unfavored politician, would result in howls of protest.

But, the overall bad news in all this is that a city zoning rule was violated, but it went away in a privately-brokered deal between the conflicted parties. The city laid low, and that's an abrogation of its duties and responsibilities....violations of zoning laws CAN now be assuaged by private deals and there is no need for city involvement.

THAT just can't be good.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 5:51 p.m.

Wayne,

The Haves and "soon to haves" just don't like it that the neighborhood won and the "job creators" lost. Too bad, follow the law. This wouldn't of happened.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan March 23, 2012 | 6:01 p.m.

"Any exchange of money...a penalty...should have been exacted BY THE CITY and been brokered BY THE CITY . . . ."

Michael, so, you do want prosecution?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 6:16 p.m.

Daniel: A prosecution?

No, I don't think it rises to the level of criminality.

This is a civil action, imo. The city should have brokered it in an open manner and been the leader. As with all such cases, court should have been a last resort. Whoever paid the money should NOT have been allowed to insist on confidentiality. Would YOU like it if the city paid off a suit against itself in confidentiality, and never let you know the sum or the deal?

Me neither.

I'm unsure what to do with the city person who apparently missed the code violation, too. To my knowledge, it's not been discussed....I may have missed it, tho. But, it sure hasn't been discussed in this place. For now, I think the city shares some blame in all this and, if money was going to change hands, the city should have ponied up its contribution.

But, we'll never know...except through rumor.

Again, I stress that this was a zoning violation against ALL of us (i.e., we the city), not just a neighborhood. It should NOT have been settled in darkness; we don't settle violations in this way. And, Hoppe should NOT have been involved in confidentiality or a secret exchange of money as a public official acting alone...pure heart and all.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 6:32 p.m.

Zoning laws are like convents. Break a covenant and they take you to court. The architect apparently didn't want it to get out that they were incompetent and were ignorant of zoning laws. Hoppe "brokered" no deals. However a cry baby landlord who feels that the neighborhood should not tell the "haves" to follow the law, you get this. It is rather sad Mike that you are frantically trying to fan a flame that is not even lit. Your pure heart comment is touching, but supporters of Tillotson are attacking her integrity, not her good intentions. Unless this money was public money, you are just beating a strawman.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 6:35 p.m.

Looks like both papers agree.

"Tillotson sought to make a dramatic exposé with his television ad that might appeal to those already opposing Hoppe, but upon unimpassioned review, he does not make a valid case. Launching this tempest in a teapot will solidify Hoppe's support... Hoppe did nothing wrong in the Beta case."

--The Tribune's View
Hoppe and the Betas
Did she interfere improperly?
By Henry J. Waters III

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 6:45 p.m.

Tim: Do we know WHO paid the money?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 23, 2012 | 6:47 p.m.

I know who didn't, the taxpayers....move along, really nothing to see here....

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 8:00 p.m.

Tim: Yeah, you don't know who paid the money, either....which brands your comment "didn't want it to get out that they were incompetent and were ignorant of zoning laws" just so much blah, blah, blah....

Apparently more of the story is coming out in the "other" newspaper this weekend. Perhaps it will provide more information.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan March 23, 2012 | 9:22 p.m.

Michael said,"This is a civil action, imo." I agree. So you want the City to bring a suit to collect a civil fine?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 23, 2012 | 9:59 p.m.

Daniel says, "So you want the City to bring a suit to collect a civil fine?"
__________________

Huh? Where'd I say that?

Go back and re-read the rest of that paragraph.

PS: No criminal laws were broken to my knowledge, but a civil zoning law was. So "civil" it is.

They did it wrong and set a bad precedent.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 23, 2012 | 11:42 p.m.

IMHO, if the challenger were the incumbent and he had brokered a confidential agreement with a neighborhood on behalf of a builder to break ordinance, we would see the same people that are saying no big deal now, try to run him outta town on a rail.

Just sayin...

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 24, 2012 | 12:47 a.m.

If he did brokered a deal with a builder and a neighborhood to break the law (ordinance). That would be wrong, but that's not what it is about. It is about the builder already breaking the law and the neighborhood wanting restitution due to this law breaking. The builder thought they could just break the law and get a rubber stamp variance. Zoning laws are designed to protect the character of existing neighborhoods. The neighborhood fought for restitution from the law breakers. Maybe next time, builders will learn to read the code and not expect a rubber stamp variance like their bought and paid for candidate Tillotson apparently envisions.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan March 24, 2012 | 10:16 a.m.

Michael says, "Go back and re-read the rest of that paragraph."

Okay, I will.

Michael says, "The city should have brokered it in an open manner and been the leader. As with all such cases, court should have been a last resort. Whoever paid the money should NOT have been allowed to insist on confidentiality."

Following that road map, if the private entities will not settle openly, the City must bring an action in court to enforce the law.

Correct?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 24, 2012 | 11:44 a.m.

Daniel:

Yes.
________________________

Private entities should have NO right to negotiate a settlement for a city zoning violation independent of city supervision, oversight, and openness.

What right does a neighborhood association have to negotiate enforcement of a law all on it's own. This was OUR law that was broken, not the neighborhood association's. If the neighborhood association is an entity unto and accountable to only itself, should it keep its mouth shut when something happens in...say...south Columbia? Well, using your road map....yes. It could also incorporate itself and make its own rules.

Did the settlement save a lot of trouble? Yep. Did it keep the city out of it? Yep. Did it keep the city out of court? Yep. Did it hide the city's culpability for a staff mistake? Yep.

Did the fraternity get to move in? Yep. Did the neighborhood association make its point? Yep. Was the point, "We'll make 'em pay!" Yep. Does the violation still exist? Yep. Was the the rest of the city shut out of any comment/remedy for a violation of its own zoning code? Yep.

Was a really bad precedent set for future violations? Yep. Did they do it wrong? Yep. Can a violation of this city's zoning laws be assuaged with a private monetary retribution? Yep.

Will we hear negatively from meddling neighborhoods about zoning violations occurring elsewhere? Yep. Will Daniel and Tim jump on board with the hue and cry.

Yep.

Will I listen to their pleas and take them seriously?

Nope.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 24, 2012 | 12:31 p.m.

The following is to be read like the villains at the end of a Scooby Doo episode..

....and we would of gotten that rubber stamp variance if it wasn't for you meddling neighborhoods.

The little guys won, hooray. I know it makes Columbia Masters of the Universes angry, but it time people that support Tillotson to realize they need to follow the law or be dragged into legal proceeding. Tillotson and those support apparently are afraid of a vocal and engaged populace.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan March 24, 2012 | 2:25 p.m.

Michael,

I think I understand your perspective now.

As for me, I'm comfortable with a little more flexibility. The City refrains from legal action if the one most directly affected by the violation (in this case, the neighborhood) obtains compensation (in this case, money). In other instances, the person most directly affected might be a single landowner and the medium of compensation could be a new curb or extra landscaping. In these matters, a solution is either practical or useless. Litigation is often not practical and the City must be careful with its resources.

In this context, I respect the developer's need for confidentiality and cannot see it as a deal-breaker, requiring the City to take legal action. In other words, when the persons most directly affected get what they need, why should the City step in? Sometimes the City should take legal action, and it always retains the right to do so, but I think this was not such an instance.

As for "jump[ing] on board with the hue and cry [,]" two points. First, I am willing to overlook the mixed metaphor. ;^) Second, residents must protect their property from development--or anything else--that threatens
its value. I've been doing it a long time, I plan to continue, and I hope everyone does the same.

So that's my perspective.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 24, 2012 | 3:46 p.m.

Daniel: So far as we know, the city had no opportunity to refrain, take action, lead, interact, or whatever....and it was its OWN zoning law that was violated. We make zoning laws, as you said, to protect our growth, development, and property values. When those laws are broken and private deals SECRETLY settle the issue without city oversight or leadership, and the variance is issued because everyone was happied up, what does that say about the future integrity and enforceability of our zoning rules?

It says they can be compromised. And all you have to do is agree on money on your own. I don't think this is a good precedent at all, flexibility notwithstanding. Is it really a good idea that zoning laws can be ignored if only combatants can agree on a money-change privately and confidentially?

Is that the real value of zoning laws? Is that what we want as a city-wide policy? That we can simply balkanize our disputes, and all the rest of our citizenry should just shut up? That the enforcement of zoning laws is area specific?

I don't like that notion at all. I want the city intimately involved in brokering a deal and, failing that, using enforcement activity.

We've beat this to death. My conclusion is I think it was done wrong and has appearances that are not desirable for all involved, including our city. I think it was tawdry and set a bad precedent we will revisit again in not a good way. The city didn't do its job and I think we'll regret it. Some will agree, some will not. Que sera sera.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 25, 2012 | 10:48 p.m.

I sit on the county's Board of Adjustment and imagine that the city's board of the same name is relatively similar. I can see no way that that agreement between the fraternity and its architect with the neighborhood association would negate the zoning ordinance and eliminate the need for a variance for the structure. Once the issue is before the board, the violation is a part of the public record and can't be swept under the rug. Sure, the association's members might not show up and thus there might be no one speaking against the variance at the board's meeting, but they will still be voting to approve or deny the variance with its attendant consequences.

(Report Comment)

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