PLANNING & ZONING
A meeting of the Jones County Board of Appeals and Adjustments addressed one of the issues involving a new construction on Joycliff Circle.
The board’s decision to deny a variance required to allow a bus stop in front of 176 Joycliff Circle gave the first round of the disagreement between property owner Mark James and his neighbors to the neighbors.
The Aug. 8 meeting began with a call to order by Jan Andrews, who would become the chairman of the board with the next agenda item.
The meeting was the first for Andrews, who is a countywide representative; Terri Chambers, who represents District 3; and Sunset Harris, who represents District 4.
Ernest Queen of District 1 was an existing board member as was Clarence Green of District 2, who was elected vice chairman.
The only new business on the agenda was the request by James to allow the bus stop. Jones County Zoning Officer Tim Pitrowski explained that the bus stop was considered an accessory building, which is not allowed under the county code. That was the reason for the variance request.
James was given the opportunity to speak in support of his request. The only neighbor to support his request, Carol Hamilton, was the first to speak. She said, after talking to James, she felt he was attempting to build a safe haven for children while waiting for the school bus. She said the bus stop would have 24/7 surveillance, and she hoped it would prevent any violence from happening to students.
“His three god children have disabilities, but the bus stop could be used by any children. Please allow this safe haven to remain on his property,” Hamilton said.
James said the community had several bus stops, and because of his long driveway, the bus stop was needed to give children a place to wait for the bus.
“I hope to prevent any tragedies. It’s 175 feet from my home to the street,” he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with a bus shelter.”
The speaker said he did not understand why the bus stop would be considered an accessory building. He concluded by stating that too many children waited on corners.
Something’s not right here,” he reiterated. “If one of those children gets hurt in that shack, you are responsible, not me.”
Rose Holder said she had lived on Joycliff Circle for 55 years and had served on the Board of Appeals for 10 years.
“I learned you have to abide by the rules. No matter the compassion you feel, you have to give each request careful consideration,” she said.
Holder said approval of the variance would set a precedent in the county.
Martha Branson said she was a 43-year resident of Joycliff Circle and stated that the variance should be denied. She said it appeared James had been given carte blanche for his construction.
“The first time I saw the building, I thought it looked like an outhouse. He should have been told to stop building it,” she said.
Branson said she had not seen any other bus stops in the county, and she mentioned the arrest of James a couple of years ago for leaving a child in a hot car.
“This must not happen,” she said, referring to the variance for the bus stop.
Jean Godwin said she had lived on Joycliff Circle for more than 30 years. She said school buses stop in front of the child’s house, blows its horn, and waits for the children.
“I just don’t get why a bus stop is needed,” she said.
Three more Joycliff Circle neighbors added their disapproval for the bus stop before the remarks from the audience were closed.
Harris said he went by the residence to look at the building. He said in his opinion the building was not a good set up for children.
Green said his problem was that the building was constructed before James applied for the variance.
Andrews said she was aware of other bus stops, but they were needed because of the distance from the house to the road.
“Those homes were back in the woods. This house is relatively close to the road,” she said.
Harris made the motion to deny the request, and the members agreed unanimously.
Green said, since the variance was denied, the building would have to come down, and Pitrowski said that was correct. He said typically the property owner would have 30 days to remove it.
James asked if he could appeal, and Pitrowski said yes. He explained that the appeal would need to be in writing, and, in order for the request to be reopened, new evidence would be required.
After the meeting had been officially adjourned, Norfleet brought up the large cross in James’ yard that was also opposed by the neighbors.
“The cross is leaning, and it’s a danger to cars if they run off the road,” he commented.
Pitrowski stated in a previous meeting that the question of the cross would have to be considered separately.