York County denies temporary move in for family given building permit by mistake

adouglas@heraldonline.comJuly 16, 2013 

A York family unable to live in their home because of a county building permit issued in error earlier this year said on Monday night they’re disappointed York County has denied them temporary permission to move in.

The Wilmore family can’t move in its mobile home on Longleaf Road until the county grants the family a certificate of occupancy – something county officials have said they won’t do until the land is rezoned to allow for mobile homes.

The mobile home building permit was issued by mistake by York County employees on April 4.

The family’s land – located just outside the city limits of York – is notzoned to allow for a mobile home.

The Wilmores said they have been paying a mortgage on the new home and rent for another home – a total of about $1,500 a month – since June because of the mistake.

Last month, the council gave the Wilmores its initial approval to rezone the land, with Councilman Joe Cox dissenting.

On Monday, Councilman Bump Roddey asked on the family’s behalf that the county give them a temporary certificate of occupancy to allow the Wilmores to move in until a third and final vote on the rezoning request can take place.

The council approved on second reading the family’s rezoning request on Monday night. The next reading and vote typically would be scheduled for the council’s August meeting.

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell requested Monday night that the third vote on the rezoning request be moved up to take place within the next 10 days at a special called meeting.

The council has plans to meet Tuesday night and again within the next 10 days to discuss its search for a new county manager, he said.

Adding the Wilmores’ request to an upcoming meeting will save the family some money and help them, Blackwell said.

York County should already have stepped in and helped because its employees made the mistake earlier this year that prevents the family from moving in, said Councilman Curwood Chappell.

“If it was my home, you’d have to move me out because I’d already be in it,” he said, adding that he is ashamed the county has put the Wilmores in the situation.

Earlier this year, some county employees were given unpaid administrative leave for the error. County officials have refused to name the employees or disclose how many days or how many employees were involved.

Giving the family a temporary certificate of occupancy before a rezoning vote is final would be “putting the cart before the horse,” York County Attorney Michael Kendree told the council on Monday. There’s no precedent for issuing a temporary permission for move in, he said, when the underlying problem relates to zoning.

If the request isn’t approved after three readings and a family has a temporary certificate of occupancy in hand, “then you’re in an ouster situation,” Kendree said.

Granting temporary permissions to move in isn’t up to the council, he said – it’s at the discretion of the county’s staff members.

It doesn’t matter if there’s no precedent for the Wilmores’ situation, the council should take the “moral high ground,” said Councilman Bruce Henderson, adding that what’s “legally right” and “morally right” are sometimes different.

Debbie Littlejohn, a friend of the Wilmores and a Clover Town Council member, spoke on behalf of the family at Monday’s meeting, saying the county’s mistake has given the family and their young daughter “financial strain and stress.”

“I’m challenging the council to be family-friendly,” she said.

A date for the council’s third reading and vote on the Wilmores’ request has not yet been set.

Building sale gets initial OK

In other action, the council gave its initial approval to sell a county-owned “spec” building in its Antrim Business Park to a German manufacturer, Coroplast.

The $1.4 million deal will spur about $12 million in investment from the company and create about 150 new jobs.

The 40,000-square-foot building near Dave Lyle Boulevard was built with $1.2 million in utility tax credit funds from the York County Electric Cooperative and Comporium.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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