by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

College Hill students apartments turned down

The Greensboro Zoning Commission voted 7 to 2 on Monday to turn down a request that would have allowed Ohio-based Edwards Companies to build a student apartment complex on the Newman Machine Co. property adjacent to the College Hill Historic District.

“I’m really confused about why UNCG has not made some kind of statement,” Commissioner Cyndy Hayworth said. “If Edwards Communities has been talking to UNCG for three years, what did they say? If they need these beds, why didn’t they buy these properties?” The university has remained publicly silent about the project, but Henry Isaacson, a lawyer arguing the case for Newman Machine Co. told the zoning commission the university wants to avoid getting into a controversy with the neighborhood.

“In my heart of hearts I just believe that if they didn’t want this to happen you would know about it,” he said.

Other commissioners expressed concern that the apartment complex, which would accommodate about 725 students, would be out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood and would create a traffic burden.

Mary Skenes, who voted in the minority, argued, “I think this project is a good one. I’ve heard about quality of life. This project fills a need and solves a problem that’s been argued — that there’s not enough housing for UNCG students.”

Steve Simonetti of the Edwards Companies said after the hearing that he did not know whether the decision would be appealed.

An appeal would bring the matter before the Greensboro City Council. As the residents have filed a protest petition, final approval would require an affirmative vote by 75 percent of the board. — JG

Judge reviews city’s petition for full release of report

Superior Court Judge Richard W. Stone listened to arguments by Winston- Salem Assistant City Attorney Al Andrews on Tuesday regarding the city’s petition for the full release of the Silk Plant Forest Citizen Review Committee’s final report and its appendices. Tuesday’s hearing centered on the proposed release of Detective Donald R. Williams’ testimony before the city council on June 11. Andrews explained that during the committee’s investigation, Winston-Salem police investigators conducted a number of videotaped interviews with current and former officers. Andrews said officers currently employed by the department were compelled to testify but given protection from criminal prosecution. That immunity does not extend to Williams, the lead investigator in the 1995 Silk Plant Forest- Jill Marker assault case. Williams filed a letter with the court on Dec. 4 contesting release of his personal information and records of his investigation. On

Nov. 27, lawyer Michael McGuinness filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of eight officers, including Richard E. “Ted” Best. In 2007, Best served as one of the detectives that conducted an internal administrative review of police procedure in the Marker assault case. City Manager Lee Garrity threw out the police department’s internal investigation after it was learned that Best had served as Williams’ supervisor. Judge Stone agreed to review the materials submitted by the city and set a court date for Thursday to hear McGuinness’ motion for dismissal. — KTB

Liaison assignments create friction

At-large Greensboro Councilman Robbie Perkins and Mayor Bill Knight were wrangling early this week about whether Perkins will continue to serve as a liaison to an intergovernmental transportation advisory committee.

An initial set of assignments sent out Sunday evening lists Perkins as an alternate for the committee. Perkins says he needs to be assigned as a full-fledged member as a requirement for continuing to serve as a voting member of the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation.

On Tuesday, Knight said Perkins would keep his assignment to the transportation advisory committee, and a new assignment list would be sent out with clarifications.

“The Urban Loop projects are, I think, critical to creating jobs and economic development,” Perkins said. “I have learned an awful lot from my work with Doug Galyon, and I feel that I could be very valuable. You don’t go throwing that type of training away. Mr. Galyon is one of the foremost transportation planners in the state.

He spent time to teach me a lot. What he’s taught me I think can be used to the city’s advantage in obtaining funding for some of the city’s projects.”

There are three council liaison positions with the transportation advisory committee. One of them customarily goes to the mayor. Perkins and District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small have previously held the other two. Knight reassigned one of the positions from Bellamy-Small to District 3 Councilman Zack Matheny, and in turn assigned Bellamy- Small to the zoning commission. Bellamy-Small was upset by the decision, and said she would try to persuade Knight to keep her on the transportation advisory committee.

Knight honored a request by Matheny to be reassigned to the War Memorial Commission. Matheny said he wants to maintain his relationship with the commission to keep abreast of maintenance needs at War Memorial Auditorium. The new mayor also assigned Perkins to the Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy Advisory Board; kept Bellamy-Small assigned to homeless issues; assigned District 2 Councilman Jim Kee to the human relations commission; assigned District 4 Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw to the Tourism Development Authority. — JG