Vidalia residents file suit over permit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Two city residents have filed a petition of appeal with the Seventh Judicial District Court after being denied building permit variances by the Board of Adjustment.

The petition, filed by attorney Paul Benoist on behalf of Earl Cotten and Marty Ellerbe separately had their permits denied by the board at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Due to the failure of the board to properly document and advertise previous meetings, the meeting was the fourth time the case was heard.

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Cotten, who lives at 1104 Plum St., and Ellerbe, who lives at 305 N. Magnolia St., both had building projects stopped before completion because their permits were revoked.

&8220;Based on my observation and judgement, of the Board of Adjustment of the City of Vidalia, they have not followed their own ordinances or any of their statutory requirements,&8221; he said. &8220;I&8217;m hopeful the court will send them a message back and require them to grant these permits to build or exceptions.&8221;

The petition asks the court to require the city to produce the record from the meeting and call for further evidence and testimony.

Benoist said his clients were incurring losses due to the exposure of their unfinished construction.

&8220;Because of the damage to the construction underway, I would hope the court will allow us to proceed as soon as possible,&8221; Benoist said.

Jack McLemore, the city attorney, said Ellberbe and Cotten had every right to appeal.

&8220;We were expecting it; we&8217;ll answer the appeal,&8221; he said. &8220;As soon as we get our paperwork, we will reply and then we&8217;ll have a hearing and the judge will decide.&8221;

Ellerbe and his wife have had his house on the market.

&8220;From what I understand, I can&8217;t sell my house until I get a permit to finish it,&8221; he said. &8220;All we want to do at this point is get the place sold, move on and find a peaceful life elsewhere.&8221;