FAYETTEVILLE — For more than 30 years, the city's Board of Adjustments has played a vital role in Fayetteville's development. Now it is on the hot seat for what the City Council calls "questionable practices," and Tuesday night's meeting may have been its last.
The board has the power to grant exceptions to city ordinances. The council says there have been way too many exceptions lately.
Council members say a building in central downtown is a perfect example. Theboarded-up windows were made illegal, but the board gave the owner an exemption, and no changes will have to be made. As a result, city leaders want to change the board.
"My opinion is they're not doing their job as charged," council member Anne Fogleman says.
The majority of council members have said publicly that they think the board has been too generous in granting exceptions to laws like the new sign ordinance and downtown zoning rulings.
"The big picture is, if you look at the record of the Board of Adjustments over the last four years, the number of variances being granted is way out of proportion," Fogleman says. "Fewer than nine percent were denied."
City records show 85 percent of variances applied for in the last three years have been approved. If the adjustment board is done away with, its duties would be given to another city body.
"When we are a growing, expanding city, we should be looking for more citizen participation," says council member Don Talbot. "When it comes to a judicial board, such as a Board of Adjustments, it needs to be independent. We should not consolidate these powers."
Members of the board believe they are being singled out unfairly because they have gone against the Historic Resource Commission and City Council on some key downtown issues.
"If they create their own little board of toadies and lackeys, which is what they want to do, that rubberstamp their opinion, what's been accomplished?" board member Michael Williford asks.
The City Council will take up the issue early next month. They could make a final decision at that meeting.