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Next step taken in LDS seminary variance process

4/27/16

Elizabeth Medora
Staff

ANTHEM – The Parkside Community Association Board of Directors has voted 3-2 in favor of moving the LDS seminary house variance forward, but the variance isn’t yet a done deal. The vote taken at the April 25 meeting will further the process of the variance. A discussion meeting for homeowners regarding this issue will be held in May.

The LDS church has requested a variance from the Board to create an LDS seminary at the home located at 3605 W Memorial Dr. The house would not have a full-time occupant. Approximately 120 students per day would be walking to and from Boulder Creek High School to this house for seminary classes.

Board president Loren Linscott, Treasurer Doug Sutherland, and Director BJ McIlnay all voted to move forward with the variance. Board Secretary Teresa Oorin and Vice President Bettye Ruff voted against it.

The Parkside Board’s April 25 meeting agenda included “LDS Church Seminary House Variance Resolution.” However, this meeting only provided the next step in the process.

Now that the next step has been taken toward final approval of the variance, a discussion meeting will be scheduled, and postcards with a link to variance information will be mailed to all homeowners with at least five days notice of the discussion meeting. At the meeting, homeowners can discuss the proposed variance, and the Parkside Board can vote to formally approve the variance. After that, a second mailing to homeowners will be sent out regarding the variance. Homeowners who object to the variance can call a special meeting within 30 days and petition to disapprove the variance. Twenty-five percent of homeowners would need to request a special meeting; a majority – 51 percent or more – of Parkside homeowners must petition to disapprove the variance to overturn it at this point. If that doesn’t happen within 30 days, the variance is approved.

Attorney Josh Bolden, part of the Board’s legal counsel, stated at the meeting that per the CC&Rs, a specific process needs to be followed.

“This will not be the approval or the denial of the variance,” Bolden said.

Board Director McIlnay and Bolden also addressed an issue of conflict of interest that has been brought up. Bolden confirmed that McIlnay is a member of the Church but stated that conflict of interest refers to monetary compensation going to an individual or their family. Bolden added that McIlnay would take part in the vote at the meeting but that he will be off the Board by the next vote. Newly elected Board member Chris Yano will be taking McIlnay’s seat on the Board.

Residents’ opinions expressed at the meeting were split on whether or not the variance should move forward.

Commenter Tiffany Yack said she’s “100 percent for the seminary” and talked about what a positive experience seminary had been for her when she was a teen. She asked the Board and the community to “consider the youth when making this decision” and called seminary a “resource for the community.”

Commenter Linda Sue Johnson, who opposes the variance, said she was “really surprised it had gotten to this point” and that changes like this “jeopardize all of us.”

“We did come here to be residential only, and I think we should remain that way,” she said.

Commenter Ryan Gray noted that he is in favor of the LDS seminary going forward and despite this being a “heated topic,” he feels that whatever happens, community members can all get along with each other.

“I think we have a lot more in common than we have different,” Gray said.

Commenter John Pope said he was opposed to the process moving forward.

“You’re going to have more problems later on if you go through with this process,” he said.

Commenter Clare Stovall stated that, as a real estate broker, she “paid close attention to the CC&Rs” when purchasing a home.

“It is my obligation to again call attention to the fact that when all Anthem residents purchased our homes, there was no mention of any variance,” she said. “Please keep in mind, if this variance is granted, there will be others who will request and possibly receive them. We can lose control of our community.”

Commenter Wayne Carroll said his kids have been going to seminary and that the early morning option (what is currently in place for seminary) doesn’t work for some of the kids who would like to take seminary.

“I want to get along with the neighbors,” Carroll said. “I believe this variance will allow that.”

Commenter John Balzer said having raised four boys, he appreciates activities for community kids, but he is not in favor of this variance.

“I’m not criticizing the program, I’m criticizing how it’s being implemented,” Balzer said. “It’s a matter of the Board maintaining the fabric of the community.”

Commenter Loren Chase said he declined to answer if he was for or against the variance but encouraged the process forward.

“I’d encourage you to let the members of Parkside say their piece and let them speak their mind and let it go to the public,” Chase said.

Ultimately, that’s what the Board decided. Each Board member spoke before the vote and specified why they were voting for or against the variance moving forward.

Board Treasurer Sutherland noted that the Board has spent a great deal of time going over the facets of this variance, talking to legal counsel, and deliberating. According to Sutherland, another entity pursuing a similar variance will have difficulties in procuring one; the variance includes strict stipulations. He also said traffic in that area was an issue already, regardless of the variance, and that the traffic problem should be addressed.

“You can develop a whole bunch of scenarios about ‘what would happen if’,” Sutherland said. He related multiple “what if” scenarios and the steps taken to avoid the issues therein. He voted in favor of continuing the variance process.

Before voting against the variance process continuing, Board Vice President Ruff noted that seminary classes are already available and are “in place in the church that is much, much larger than this house.”

“I think the real issue is this elected board honoring the contractual agreement that it has with every homeowner in Parkside who is expected to comply with these rules,” Ruff said. “For this board to entertain the idea of going through the process of this variance is doing an injustice to every homeowner and business in Anthem.”

Board secretary Oorin said she agreed with Ruff and that she also agreed with community members that children need a positive influence.

“It is not a home, then, it is a dwelling,” she said, referring to the home in question if the variance was passed. Oorin also voted against the continuation of the variance process.

Board Director McIlnay stated that there has been “quite a bit of due diligence done by this Board.”

“My hat’s off to this board, because it’s functioned exactly as intended,” he said, referencing discussions and debates among the Board, “all designed to do what’s right for Anthem.” He noted that he feels the seminary adds value to Anthem.

“Our personal decisions are based on that: what is right for you guys,” McIlnay said. “I’ll tell you that I’m a member of the church, and I’m proud to be a member of the church, and I’m proud of being on this board. I’m in favor of anything that benefits Anthem and anything that benefits our youth.” McIlnay voted in favor of the variance process continuing.

Board President Linscott cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the process continuing. He noted that much internal discussion among the Board and with legal counsel has taken place. He also said he is “impressed with the LDS kids’ faith in this system.”

“I’m of the opinion that we need to let the process proceed,” Linscott said.

A discussion meeting will be scheduled in May; possible dates stated include May 16 or May 19.  Keep updated on meeting dates by following the Parkside Association calendar, available online at www.onlineatanthem.com/anthem-parkside-community-association.