Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 14, 2014

Potter is cross with City Council

Balks at paying fee for application to erect giant crucifix on U.S. 27


Somerset —

Ordinances and regulations outline standards such as building height, bulk, lot area, setbacks, parking, signage, and density, according to information provided through the city’s website.
Potter during the February meeting asked if the council could intervene if his request is turned down. Girdler said councilors don’t oversee the department’s actions unless a zoning change is requested. 
Girdler reiterated that point on Monday. 
“The city council at this point does not get into a discussion getting into the merits of (the application process) .. we’re circumventing the process and we cannot do that by state law,” said Girdler. 
Wiese has said that, should the cross not meet Planning and Zoning regulations, Potter can actually file for a special variance permit to construct the cross should it not meet planning and zoning standards. 
“If it won’t work under the ordinance as it’s written, there are things he (Potter) can do to request a variance,” said Wiese in February. “It’s a permit to do something that would otherwise be forbidden under the ordinances.”
If the Planning and Zoning Department turns Potter’s project down, he can appeal in court. 
Potter said he has taken some of his cases to federal court.
“But I don’t want to threaten,” said Potter. “ ... My determination is to build a cross.”
Councilor Jerry Burnett asked Potter to follow the application process through.
“Let’s follow the procedure Mr. Potter. ... If it comes before the council and if you appeal it, maybe we can look at it then,” said Burnett.
Potter said he would submit the application fee. 
Girdler said city officials would do their best to ensure Potter understands the application process. 
“We want to make sure that ... our system works for you and not against you,” said Girdler. “We do apologize if we’ve not done what we should have done as far as following through the process. We’ll make sure that’s done, sir.” 

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