Politics & Government

Will house drama affect Raleigh Board of Adjustment seat?

Raleigh City Council members will decide Tuesday whether two Board of Adjustment members will get another term following the Oakwood modernist house drama.

The terms of Ted Shear and Brian Williams expired in July, but several council members wanted to delay the reappointments until the Superior Court case involving the house was resolved. Judge Elaine Bushfan ruled that the Board of Adjustment committed errors when it overturned approvals for the house.

Shear was among the three board members who voted against the house, saying the city’s historic commission had failed to apply its own guidelines in the case. Williams did not vote on the case.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin voiced hesitation about reappointing Shear, an N.C. State University forestry professor who has long been active in city politics. Other council members said he deserves another term, and Shear’s supporters say kicking him off would be an act of retaliation.

For appointed boards, the council almost always reappoints any existing members who have a good attendance record.

Paperwork delays apartments

Raleigh nonprofit DHIC has another year to seek state and federal financing for an affordable apartment project in Chapel Hill.

DHIC applied in May for state housing and federal tax credits to help build the proposed Greenfield Place on 8.5 acres of town-owned land. The town has agreed to sell the property to DHIC for $100 to develop 144 senior and family apartments.

The tax credit application was rejected because it lacked required paperwork about DHIC’s $300,000 commitment to the project, DHIC President Gregg Warren said. If the agency fails to get funding again, the council could recruit other partners. Warren said DHIC will do all it can to be successful this time.

But that didn’t satisfy council member Maria Palmer.

“An organization as experienced as DHIC – with the track record and the support – I guess I want to know what happened and how is it not going to happen again,” she said.

Warren said he doesn’t remember the agency ever making “such a hurtful error and a small error that has had such a large impact on our partners.”

“We are very sorry for that, and we are very sorry to our development team that spent considerable time and energy on this, and we’re sorry to the town of Chapel Hill, too,” he said. “We’re perfectly willing to admit our error and mistake, and we will double check our checklist, you can be sure.”

Group opposes amendment

The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has taken a stand against a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would allow defendants in non-capital cases to waive their right to a jury trial.

Political Chairman Walter Jackson said committee members, a number of whom are attorneys, were concerned about such an amendment’s effects on lower-income and less-well-educated defendants, who might not understand the consequence of waiving the right

The committee, one of Durham’s three major political organizations along with the self-described “progressive” Peoples’ Alliance and the business-oriented Friends of Durham, took the stand when it made its endorsements in the Nov. 4 general election last weekend.

The committee endorsed Mike Andrews, who is running unopposed for Durham County Sheriff; in the May primary, the committee favored Clarence Birkhead.

Other new endorsements went to Mark Martin for state Supreme Court chief justice; Cheri Beasley and Sam Ervin IV for state Supreme Court associate justice; and Keischa Lovelace, Lucy Inman and Mark Davis for judgeships on the state Court of Appeals.

Teacher piracy in Wake?

The Wake County school system is weighing the politically sensitive issue of limiting the ability of teachers to transfer between schools in the district.

Teachers can now transfer to any school that offers them a job between January and April. After May 1, teachers need permission from their principal to transfer.

During a school board committee meeting this week, Superintendent Jim Merrill said he wanted to talk about the “internal churn” some schools encounter annually as experienced teachers leave for other Wake schools. Administrators and board members talked about how some high-poverty schools have so much turnover that most of their staff consists of beginning teachers.

“Do our non-struggling schools pirate teachers from the struggling schools?” school board member Jim Martin asked.

Administrators will continue to study the issue, including the viability of saying transfers won’t be granted after a certain date unless hardship reasons are cited.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Tammy Grubb, Jim Wise and T. Keung Hui.

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