By Bonnie Culverhouse
Not even a letter from an attorney could convince the Minden City Council to address a bid to appeal a Minden Planning Commission zoning decision to deny a variance request.
“The planning commission’s denial of this rezoning request is blatantly inconsistent with its past rezoning of adjacent properties from R-1 to R-5,” the letter from Charles W. Herald III, attorney at law reads.
Jeff Glover, partner with MGM Development Group LLC, addressed the planning commission last week with a request for a zoning variance to allow the building of Retirement Villas of Minden, a 50-unit R-5 multi-family residential construction and gated retirement community located at 711 Germantown Rd.
District E councilwoman Pam Bloxom said the commission meeting included residents of the area, none of whom were in favor of the variance.
“It’s not that I am not in favor of it,” Bloxom said. “My constituents aren’t in favor. I have offered to help MGM find another location for it.”
The property, currently owned by Anti-Pest & Veitch, is located between Savannah Court and The Colony, which is not multi-family nor is it confined to senior citizens.
In the attorney’s letter, allegations were made that Bloxom, on social media, had made racist comments. The letter claimed those comments “… raised concern about bias/discrimination as a basis to her opposition for rezoning.”
When asked for a motion to grant the appeal, no council member spoke. But during public comments ending the meeting, Glover personally addressed the council.
“During the (planning commission) meeting itself, there were no real issues brought up other than the location,” Glover said. “But when you look at the zoning itself, it is inconsistent with zoning decisions made in adjacent areas, so there was no legal basis in terms of consistency of the zoning.”
Glover then read aloud the letter from his attorney until his three minutes were up. One of his partners finished reading the letter.
Susie Johnson, a resident of the surrounding area told the council that Bloxom had never made comments that were racially biased.
“Ms. Bloxom made no such racist comments,” Johnson said. “Second of all, some of the things in that letter are not true. Ms. Bloxom’s development is not a senior citizens’ development.”
Johnson also told the council that MGM representatives could not give a “substantive answer” to any questions asked at the Minden Planning Commission meeting, including the amount of rent.
“Considering the amount of money invested, it would take $1800 a month for profit,” she said. “They are not doing it for charity. There are a lot of inconsistencies in that letter.”
Johnson also said that during the planning commission meeting, attendees asked multiple questions concerning the project.
“We could not get a definitive answer from Mr. Glover or Mr. Meredith about anything we asked,” she said. “They had no budget lined up, they didn’t have their figures correct, couldn’t explain the discrepancy in the rent … they are just basically flying by the seat of their pants.”
During council comments, District D councilman Michael Roy said he felt the need to defend himself as it applied to the request to appeal the planning commission’s decision.
“Several months ago, Mr. Glover came to me and sat down with a two-page idea,” Roy said. “After an hour’s conversation, I asked him for more information. He gave me no site plans, no restrictions, no anything.”
Roy said until the MPC meeting Thursday, he still had received no information from Glover. Doing his own research, Roy said he discovered Monroe-based MGM has been in business only two years.
“They have four projects and not one of them has a frame on it,” he said. “I’m concerned about somebody coming in and not doing what they say they are going to do.”
There was one more straw, he said, that “broke the camel’s back for me.”
“Friday, Glover called several times and when I returned his phone call, he still did not have the information for me to make an informed decision on that piece of property,” Roy said. “After that conversation, I had a call saying that he (Glover) asked me and Pam Bloxom to commit malfeasance in office.”
Roy said Glover wanted Roy or Bloxom not to attend Monday night’s meeting, knowing it would take a two-thirds vote of the council to pass the appeal.
“That’s a felony,” Roy said. “I am not about to commit a felony, and I sure don’t want to do business with someone who wants me to.”
Bloxom said there were many aspects of the projects that caused concern.
“There are several things that don’t add up,” she said. “For instance, the numbers. They plan to lease for $700 a month, but those numbers just don’t add up. They say these are not HUD or Section 8 units, but then they say the residents will need vouchers, and the Federal government will subsidize. It’s hard to make sense of it.”
Bloxom described it as a lack of financial transparency.
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