Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Murphy Tips The Scale of Common Sense... The Wrong Way

Inexperience trumps common sense
Mary Murphy is a new member of the town's Board of Adjustment. Her inexperience showed at yesterday's meeting where she cast the deciding vote to deny a homeowner a "no brainer" common sense frontage 2.5 foot frontage variance.  You can learn more about that request here.

Solomon a "No Show"
Council Member and council candidate Steve Solomon is the council liaison to the Board of Adjustment. He had told the applicant at one time that he thought that approval of their request was a simple matter. Perhaps his input may have been helpful to the applicant had he been there.

Bohen supported the request.
Council candidate Tim Bohen is a member of the town's historical commission. He, unlike Solomon, attended the meeting. Bohen read a letter that he had written last fall in support of the variance request.

Community support was strong
The applicant's next door neighbor and the neighbor across the street spoke in favor of the variance request. A leader of the homeowners association also spoke in favor. The Oro Valley Country Club had written a letter of support.

But the hardline would prevail
Chairperson Helen Dankwerth summed up her position. Simply put: State law is what it is and town staff has made a recommendation to deny based on their interpretation of state law. She was going with their analysis. Deny. Vice Chair Stephen Roach denied the request on the basis that he thought the town had recommended reasonable alternatives. None of these, however, suit the historical character of the property. Neither Dankwerth or Roach live in the area or have ever visited the property.

According to Oro Valley resident Mike Zinkin, our expert on everything regarding code: "The Board of Adjustment is forced, by State Law, to decide on a variance to a code on 5 objective standards.  However, as it turns our, the objectives require judgment.

Apparently, two other members felt it did meet the standards. they supported the petition. One, David Perkins, thought that a 2.5 foot frontage request was a very simple matter. It made sense. The other member Octvioa Barcello had visited the property earlier. He saw the situation. He voted to approve.

Then there was Mary Murphy. She sat silent the entire hearing. She asked no question. She voiced no opinion. She simply said "No."

Our opinion: This was not her best day.