By Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó A former alderman has gone to court to challenge a ruling that effectively revoked his home business permit.
Steve Stroud, of 412 W. Ketchie St., is asking a Rowan County Superior Court Judge to overturn the ruling by the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustments.
Lois Elliott, of 505 W. Ketchie St., chairman of the ZBA, brought a complaint saying the permit was issued incorrectly. She testified the noise from Stroud’s business harmed her and also devalued a lot she and her husband, Troy, own across the street from Stroud’s business. She contended his business should be in commercial zoning.
Stroud operates Tarheel Safe & Lock. He testified that more than 95 percent of his business is out of town or out of state.
Several of Stroud’s neighbors testified that they either didn’t hear any noise from his business or it didn’t bother them.
After two nights of hearings, the ZBA ruled in favor of Elliott, saying the town acted incorrectly in issuing the home business permit to Stroud.
Throughout the process, Stroud has maintained the complaint was personal and political. Troy Elliott, a former alderman, and Stroud have been political foes for years.
Stroud’s attorney, Rick Locklear of Landis, claims in his challenge that Lois Elliott violated state law by discussing, speaking and presenting information to board members prior to the hearing. He cited a General Statute that prohibits a member of the ZBA board from participating in “a manner that would violate the petitioner’s constitutional right to an impartial decision maker.”
Locklear contends that Lois Elliott did not have standing to challenge the matter because she would not suffer special damages distinct from the rest of the community.
And he also contends that the ZBA lacked jurisdiction.
The action names the town, the ZBA, and ZBA members Martha Corriher, Boyd Biles, Arthur Heggins, Dave Jacobs, Charles Collins Jr., Harry Mills and Donald S. Wagner as defendants.
Stroud is asking the court to reverse the decision of the ZBA and order the home business permit to remain in effect.
Town Attorney Tom Brooke gave copies of the court filing to aldermen at the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.
There was no discussion.
Brooke said at this point he isn’t sure what his role will be.
The town’s position is that the permit was legally issued, but both the town and the ZBA are defendants.
Acting town Manager Bill Pless said Wednesday the Board of Aldermen will likely discuss the situation at an upcoming meeting and provide instructions to Brooke.
Lindsay Hobbs, the town planner who issued the permit, said that Stroud’s business is grandfathered, meaning that he could continue to operate his home business despite the ZBA ruling.
By Jessie Burchette