We’ve added a few more meetings to the list since the last update! Our hearing with the Zoning Board continued on to Part 3 (postponed to Sep 6) and Part 4 (Oct 25), followed by a two-part Deliberation (Nov 12 and Dec 6, 2018). In total, the dedicated all-volunteer Zoning Board spent nearly 20 hours over 6 months considering our case. And this does not even take into account the amount of work that they do behind the scenes studying and writing reports! In the end, they voted 3-2 against our proposal to use our Greensboro property for “church use” (3-2). Basically, the reason given was the third and most subjective criteria by which they judge these matters, “an adverse impact on the area.”
We were surprised and very disappointed by this decision. After much thought, counsel and prayer, CRC’s leadership decided to submit a motion for a rehearing. This motion is a request that the zoning board reconsider our case: a new hearing would be set and we would go through at least portions of the zoning process once again. It’s very rare for a Zoning Board to accept such a request. However, we felt compelled to do this because every expert we consulted agreed that the decision was flawed for a few reasons. We think our case is quite compelling. The Zoning Board’s ruling was very close (3-2) and quite controversial amongst the board. Also, it is helpful to note that the two board members who voted in our favor had also submitted a rather detailed and powerful dissenting opinion.
Our goal is not merely to win the right to build but to do the right thing. As we hope has been evident, we do not have an adversarial posture toward the town or any neighbors. Even in the motion for rehearing, our motivation is simply state the case—to get all relevant information and concerns into the legal record—regardless of whether we are granted our motion. There is a concern among many both inside and outside the church, that under the logic of the present ruling, it is hard to imagine how any house of worship (regardless of the religion) could possibly ever be granted permission for a new building in Hanover. We do not feel this state of affairs is good for our community.
On January 28, 2019 the Board voted unanimously to grant our motion for rehearing. Remember, this is very unusual! We found their openness to further understand and consider quite encouraging, especially in light of our goal to be helpful (informational and not confrontational) in our presentation of the issues.
They will first seek legal counsel both on the matters we raised in our motion and to see how much they are able to limit the scope of the rehearing. No one, us included, wants to have to rehash everything! Thus, there will be another delay before the next hearing and ruling.