by Eric Ginsburg & Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

Winston-Salem council takes stand against duplexes in Ardmore

The Winston-Salem City Council voted 6 to 1 on Monday to deny a rezoning request to a North Dakota couple who were seeking to bring their duplex on Brentwood Street in the Ardmore neighborhood into legal conformity. While sympathetic to the applicants, several members expressed concern that approval of the request would set a negative precedent and prompt a rush of conversions by absentee owners seeking to maximize profits from their real estate investments.

Brad and Rachel Kelly moved to Williston, ND to take advantage of an oil boom after the recession hit. Brad Kelly told city council that the house was converted to a duplex before he and his wife bought it, and they did not know that it was zoned for single-family. City/ County Planning Director Paul Norby said the house’s nonconforming status came to staff’s attention when Rachel Kelly called to request a second rolling garbage cart the upstairs tenants.

The area, which is located near Baptist Hospital, is popular with graduate students and young professionals in the medical field.

Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse, who represents the neighborhood, moved for denial of the request, seconded by North Ward Councilwoman Denise D. Adams.

“Hard cases can make bad law,” said Besse, who also lives in the neighborhood.

Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke expressed sympathy for Amanda Lyon, a tenant who told council that the apartment was the only place she and her boyfriend — who is taking out students loans to attend graduate school — can afford in the area.

“I guess I feel grief because when I listened to the young woman speak about she and her friend having a nice place to stay,” Burke said. “And we promote downtown living for young people.”

East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery voted against the denial, arguing that the neighbors bear some responsibility in the matter because they knowingly allowed the duplex to remain in the neighborhood for 22 years.

Adams and Southeast Ward Councilman James Taylor Jr. said they have to defer to the community, neighborhoods and residents in such contentious rezoning matters, although Taylor made an unsuccessful effort to continue the rezoning to allow the applicants and neighbors to try to reach an agreement. The two council members did not distinguish between tenants and owneroccupants in their comments.

“The one thing that we do know is that we support neighborhoods’ residents when they want to come out and agree or disagree with whatever’s going on in the neighborhood,” Adams said. “And I commend the neighborhood for doing that, the residents who are here tonight. I also believe people have a right to determine what goes on their neighborhood.” — JG

City of Greensboro prepares to defend itself after withdrawing loan

Black Network Television, a Greensboro-based company that requested a $300,000 loan this summer, sent the city a demand letter seeking damages after being denied the loan.

The city said Monday that it will “vigorously defend its interests” if the owners move forward with a lawsuit.

City Council initially voted in favor of the loan for a television show, “Whatcha Cookin?” in June, but soon discovered the company’s attorneys did not fully disclose necessary financial information. Business owners Michael and Ramona Woods said at the June council meeting that they were willing to put their home up for the deal, a move that Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann vocally opposed.

In a press release, the city said that the Woods failed to disclose a home equity line of credit that already existed against the property.

“The line of credit made the amount of indebtedness on their home higher than what council understood it to be during its previous vote in June,” the press release said. “Council’s approval was conditioned on the amount of indebtedness on the property and what position a city lien would have against the property. Given the new information, the Woods and BNT could not meet the terms of the loan as approved by council.”

Numerous residents were already outraged by the initial vote, criticizing the loan as unwise and outside the normal purview of city loans. After discovering that the company and its owners couldn’t meet the terms of the loan, council voted against modifying the loan terms in July, effectively stopping the process. — EG