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Letter to the editor: Ashcraft Properties never requested a zone change

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I am writing to provide correct information related to the article “City Rejects Request for Downtown Rezoning” from June 19. 

The article states first that “Ashcraft Realty” owns the building for which a change was requested.  Ashcraft Realty not only does not own that building, but there is no company by that name. The name of my management and real estate brokerage is Ashcraft Real Estate Services which is owned by my mother, Debra Granger, and me.  Further, the correct owner of the building where the News-Herald formerly occupied is Ashcraft Properties, LLC which is owned by the James Ashcraft Estate and Debra Granger.  That may not seem like a big deal, but it is actually very important to make these distinctions.

Additionally, the article states that a request was made to change the zoning of the building from C-1 to R-1.  In fact, there was never a request for a zone change.  At the direction of Mayor West, I wrote a letter (acting as the agent for Ashcraft Properties, LLC) requesting a variance in the zoning for the location.  What this means is that the zoning actually stays the same for the area, but a modified use is allowed.  I want it to be very clear that Ashcraft Properties never requested a zone change.

The letter that was written to request the variance was not addressed to the board of adjustments, but rather to the planning and zoning board. Why the issue was ever addressed with any other entity than the planning and zoning board is beyond me. The fact that it was taken to the incorrect board was a decision of Mayor West and was not done at my request or direction.

With a building in a C-1 zone, residences are allowed provided that there is a primary commercial use in the building.  That is how buildings such as all of those along Seminary Street have apartments over commercial establishments. Those do not require variances from the zoning in their current form; however, if any of those building owners chose to make their building entirely residential, it would require a variance. 

I hope this sets the record straight and paints a more accurate picture of the situation.  At your request, I am able to provide a copy of the letter that was written requesting the variance as well as a copy of the zoning ordinance.    

 

John Ashcraft