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City's 4 Unrelated Rule resurfaces

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -
A housing rule that allows 4-unrelated people to live in the same place is once again the target of debate. City council members kicked off an effort Thursday night to repeal that 4-unrelated rule.

Council members promised they'd do it if elected and they followed through. Council members Marion Blackburn, Rick Croskery, Calvin Mercer and Rick Smiley vowed to repeal the rule.

But when Councilwoman Marion Blackburn made a motion to repeal the 4 unrelated rule and revert it back to the 35-year-old 3-unrelated rule, Councilwoman Kandi Smith and Councilwoman Rose Glover showed their dissatisfaction. 

"It’s about people being bitter and about not winning." Smith said.

"Just take back everything. Take the overlay back, take back everything. That's what you need to do. Just dissolve the whole thing and you come up with an idea as to what needs to be done." Glover said to council members in support of the repeal. 

Several motions were filed: to repeal the rule, revoke permits already granted and allow 18-months for property owners to become compliant, toss out the UNRI (University Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative) and to accept the UNRI’s recommendations. All but the second in the series passed.
For the first time since the 4-unrelated rule was implemented, council members saw first-hand the plan was actually working.

“Since the overlay has been in place, local property owners have invested well over $5.5 million,” Elizabeth Simple from the University Neighborhood Association said. 

“Crime statistics are going hard in the other direction (more than 30% in 6 months),” Frank Cassiano said. 

For those reasons, Smith says she's frustrated by council member's efforts to repeal the the rule.

“If they proof that they were not working, it was very bad, it was very  detrimental, then I would understand but no one has come to the table and said let's try this,” Smith said. 

Smith says if repeal is successful, all the hard work and money provided to this area would have been for nothing. “When you think about money spent, you think about staff time as well because staff has spent a lot of time on this issue.”
     
Before any changes are fully approved, the Planning and Zoning Board will need to hear the public's concerns. If the board repeals the policy, then it will be up to the City Council to put their final stamp of approval.

83% of the properties in the University area are rental properties, which Blackburn says she’d like to minimize. 

Mayor Allen Thomas voiced his concerns at Thursday’s meeting. He says the city is sending the wrong message to investors. He says the volatile policy climate could drive away investors. 
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