Scott Tibbs

A completely reasonable variance

By Scott Tibbs, July 28, 2023

While private property rights are not unlimited, county government should generally defer to the property owner in how property should be used. Unless there is a significant infringement on other property owners or a drain on infrastructure, county government should not be deciding how a property should be used instead of the people who own that property. Here is my letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals on the denial of a variance to allow a shelter for victims of sex trafficking.

Dear Board of Zoning Appeals,

I am deeply disappointed that the Board of Zoning Appeals denied a variance to allow protective housing for women who have been victims of sex trafficking. While I understand the concern that the house could hold more women than in the stated plan under the variance, the Herald-Times reported on July 5 that Sojourn House signed a binding legal document that would cap the number of residents at 8. I do not understand why that was not considered a "substantive" change to the variance request.

I understand why the unrelated adults rule is in place in both city and county zoning codes, to control student housing. But this is clearly not student housing. The house is on a lot of more than seven acres, surrounded by trees and a creek. I looked at the property on Google Maps. If it would inconvenience the neighbors, that inconvenience would be very small - and is insignificant compared to the good it would do for women who have been harmed by criminals and need help and shelter.

Sex trafficking is a heinous crime, and the victims of sex trafficking need our help and support. It is therefore a very good thing that Sojourn House is stepping up to provide that support. County government should be looking for ways to help this organization and its clients, not standing in the way with unnecessary restrictions on land use. Please reconsider your decision and allow Sojourn House to serve sex trafficking victims.

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