Broad & Washington: Anatomy of an Unvote

In its effort to keep things moving expeditiously, the city zoning board tripped over its own previous ruling. Reversing the decision was the only legal thing it could do.

Northwest lot of Broad and Washington | Image via Google Street View

This lot at the northwest corner of Broad and Washington will remain empty at least one week longer than it otherwise might have because of the need to observe protocol. | Image via Google Street View

Since we’re sure many of you following the saga of 1001 South Broad, Bart Blatstein’s megaproject at the northeast corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue, are still scratching your heads wondering how it was that the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted on Blatstein’s request for special exceptions, then undid its action, we have an explanation for you courtesy of Department of Licenses and Inspections press spokesperson Karen Guss.

It seems that the vote-unvote was a byproduct of an admirable effort on the part of the ZBA to get the flow of appeals moving more expeditiously.

Guss explained that the new board, which held its first meeting in March, is making a conscious effort to speed up the pace of proceedings and decisions in order to both clear a backlog of cases and not keep property owners waiting. So when attorneys representing Blatstein asked the board at its May 4 meeting, “Are you done thinking? Are you ready to vote?” Guss said that the board members responded that they were, so they voted.

Then the board’s attorneys pointed out what the members had done the week prior. At the end of its April 27 hearing on the request, the board opted to continue the case—that is, hold off on an actual vote—for two weeks.

“The attorneys said the board needed to be following the protocols they had established,” said Guss. It turns out that there was a legal way to set things straight, and that was to reconvene and vote to vacate the earlier vote.

What this means is merely that the formal vote will not take place until next Wednesday. We now already know what the vote will be. But the procedural formalities will have been observed.

Which means that, unless Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s bill calling for a development moratorium on the site becomes law and survives any attempts to strike it down, Blatstein can go ahead with his plans to build a mixed-use development no one except himself really likes at a location that’s crying out for just such mixed-use development.

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