The landowner won. The Luther Board of Adjustment sat for its first meeting Monday evening and after naming Phil Campbell chairman, soon heard its first public hearing on a variance denial. More than 30 neighbors attended and many spoke on behalf of the landowner saying they had zero objections to the request and praising her service to the community and being a wonderful neighbor.
The issue surrounded Dr. Rosemarie Strong’s request to add a home to her 17 acres on Luther Road on the edge of Town limits. She sought a variance to allow a new manufactured home to be on the property where she lives in a farm house. The new home is for members of her daughter’s family, including her grandchildren. The new home, valued at $100,000, would be mostly hidden from the road with ample room to comply with setback and space requirements.
Her attorney, Thomas Daniel, told the board that his study of the ordinances found that Strong should not have needed a variance in the first place because the Agricultural Zoning doesn’t specifically prohibit manufactured homes but allows “residences” along with many other buildings.
Among the neighbors speaking, James Wilson told the board that Dr. Strong is of high moral character and has done more for Luther in the few years she has lived here “than I have in my whole life.”
Other neighbors said they would be honored to have a new family come to the live in Luther and be a part of the community and for their children to enroll in the public school.
The parents of Strong’s son-in-law also attended the hearing and said they were considering moving to Luther, pending this outcome.
Kasey Wood serves with Dr. Strong on the Luther Parks Commission. She said that a variance defined is a tool to consider zoning requests on a case by case basis. She said this request would absolutely be an asset for the community. “We need to consider variances with common sense.”
After a pause, Board of Adjustment Member Bruce Wilson quickly moved to approve the variance. Wilson, Kevin Schrimsher and Pam Simmons voted yes. Campbell said he had more questions and voted no, noting his vote wouldn’t defeat the motion. Campbell said the Board of Trustees has more work to do on updating ordinances.
Dr. Strong and her family thanked the gathered crowd for coming and supporting them, then everyone departed back into the cold evening.