Last week the INDYquestioned whether or not the Durham County Republican Party was operating illegally out of a house on the 200 block of North Briggs Avenue. At that time, Steve Medlin, the director of the City-County Planning Department, told the INDY said the house was “most likely a zoning enforcement violation.”
The house the GOP is using is zoned Residential Urban 5(2), a zoning designation that would allow for mostly single-family and two-family residential units. There are some other uses allowed, including family care homes, group living facilities, schools, museums, and government facilities.
But those additional uses require the property owner to get a special permit and site plan approvals to operate—and the Durham GOP didn’t do that.
In an email to city council member Charlie Reece this afternoon, Medlin wrote: “Whenever there is a change of use (i.e. single family residence to a community service facility), property owners are required to submit for all necessary approvals to convert the use according to the prescribed standards and process. Additionally if the occupancy type changes the site must be brought into compliance with the N.C. State Building Code for the anticipated occupancy type prior to occupancy.”
Medlin said the property owner and the Durham GOP “made an assumption that the resource library that they wished to install was a community service use classification and began to make improvements to the site and begin stocking the structure with materials.”
The Planning Department defines a community use as “a use of a public, nonprofit, or charitable nature providing ongoing education, training, or counseling to the general public on a regular basis, without a residential component.” But the GOP “failed to inquire as to whether their intended use would qualify as a community service,” Medlin added.
The city has sent a notice of violation to the the property owner, an LLC owned by James Anthony of Raleigh. In his email, Medlin said he doesn’t believe there has been a formal response to the notice, but the Durham County GOP has until the end of August to respond before the city issues a civil citation.
[pdf-1] A call to the Durham GOP Monday was not returned.