Constituents fill Whitmire’s ears

A state lawmaker admitted today his motivation to offer H.3174 is partly due to a failed attempt to convert Walhalla’s historic newspaper building into apartments for seniors who could forsake driving for walks across downtown. The project fell apart when a city regulatory board denied a zoning variance. But Rep. Bill Whitmire said a dispute over whether Old St. John’s Meeting House could add a bathroom to its building also influenced him to pre-file the bill. The General Assembly returns next month, and Whitmire’s bill was immediately referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Last night Lori Sons, the architect who presented plans for the senior apartments, complained to the city council over the way her application had been handled. But she was told that, regardless of the desirability for her project, the mayor and council are powerless to interfere with decisions of the board of zoning appeals. The board acts as a quasi-judicial panel, free of political influence.