• 63°

Project foes lose fight

SOUTH POINT — The zoning board in the Village of South Point has rejected appeals from several residents concerned about a permit issued to the company redeveloping the former South Point Elementary School.

The matter in question was whether the village rightfully issued White Caps LLC a permit to begin remodeling the former school, now the Carver-Freeman Professional Building, into a multi-purpose structure with condominiums and business offices.

White Caps, owned by Joe Freeman and James Carver, bought the property on Washington Street last year with a plan to add condos and several businesses.

Since then, White Caps had been at a standstill since resident opposition spurred a look at the current zoning ordinance that was drafted in the 1980s and 1990s anddisallows any commercial uses in a residential area. The school building is bordered on two sides by a residential neighborhood, the Valley View subdivision.

Until recently, the company was unable to get the signatures of 60 percent of adjacent landowners that would allow construction to begin — 10 signatures from any of the 16 adjacent landowners.

Earlier this month, White Caps submitted the required signatures but opponents of the redevelopment argued whether some of the signatures should be counted in the percentage.

Brenda McKee, an outspoken member of the opposition and an appellant, spoke on behalf of the other appellants, Wanda Skeens and Robert Ross. Each of the three Valley View residents submitted a written appeal of the permit.

In a presentation to the zoning board that is comprised of the village council, McKee brought into question the fact that White Caps sold some of its lots to other businesses owned by Freeman and Carver in order to gain more signatures from adjacent property owners.

McKee contended that the land bought by White Caps is comprised of 16 separate lots and the company should not have been able to redefine the property’s perimeter by selling lots to related businesses in order to gain additional adjacent properties.

McKee did say she was not opposed to condos if they meet state regulations and requirements, but noted in her complaint the residential and commercial sections of the building should be separated completely.

White Caps transferred land to Ultimate Health Care Inc. and Quality Care Nursing Services, Inc., both owned by Carver and Freeman, as well as a company called Gallia Properties, owned by Freeman’s wife.

Village administrator Pat Leighty said he spent hours looking at the lots on a map of the neighborhood and found, after the new divisions of property, there were 22 adjacent properties to the White Caps-owned land.

Of the 22 property owners, Leighty said White Caps would need 13 signatures — the company provided 14 signatures.

“Each one of those properties is legal and is adjacent to that perimeter, according to our ordinance,” Leighty said at the hearing. “It was my duty and obligation to issue the permit.”

Village attorney Randy Lambert provided the zoning board with guidelines to apply to the zoning ordinance in this case and for future cases. Lambert also agreed the property transfers were legal.

“You can’t tell people how to transfer property,” Lambert said.

“On the advice of our attorney … the board feels (White Caps) does have 60 percent of the property owners. We support the village administrator and deny the appeal,” councilman Jeff Gaskin said.

Patricia Ross, wife of one of the appellants, said she is the most adjacent property owner of the school and was displeased with the decision.

“At no time was the best interest of the surrounding residential community served,” Ross said.

Freeman said he was pleased with the outcome. He said his company would continue to focus on developing the medical offices and the condos.