On behalf of our Board, volunteers, and myself, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us in the fight for Reese’s House. As you can see in the pic above, we had a great turnout for the appeal hearing yesterday and we can’t thank you enough for standing in solidarity with us. Your support and dedication to our mission have been a driving force since day one.
Last night, the Millville City Commissioners made history. They were the first governing body to ever extend a zoning appeal deadline. In a 4-1 vote, the commissioners decided to allow the late appeal filed by Rick Abbott (12 days late!) to be heard. They said they allowed it because the city errored in the way the notice was published in the paper. They sided with a wealthy businessman who owns two vacant buildings next to us and decided to negatively impact the organization which did nothing wrong. The city messed up the notice and Abbott’s appeal was late, but they voted in his favor, against us. The only commissioner who voted in our favor was Mr. Hewitt. On behalf of our entire organization, thank you, Mr. Hewitt.
Within minutes of the appeal hearing starting, the city solicitor (the same one we asked to recuse himself due to conflicts) brought up information that one of the original zoning board members who voted for our resolution has a family business within 200 ft of our building. The solicitor discussed how this was a conflict of interest and that it essentially poisoned the rest of the zoning board that night. The solicitor recommended that the entire case be sent back to the zoning board to be heard again. The commissioners then voted unanimously to remand the resolution back to the zoning board.
This means that we will have to reapply for our zoning again or figure something else out. Until that or something else happens, we cannot operate our community center. We’re not sure what that process will look like since the City Commissioners removed many of the former zoning board members who supported a community center and replaced them with their preferred options.
While the next steps are still unclear, we will be regrouping with our legal team and Board of Directors shortly to discuss everything. We have some different options to look at and will exhaust all possible options. We still believe that the city has acted inappropriately and have some remaining legal options to pursue accordingly. We know that we are doing this for Reese, our youth, young adults, & all people in our city, and will continue to keep you in the loop as we move forward!
Sean Thom, Executive Director
PS The longer this fight goes, the larger our legal expenses will be. If you can find it in your heart (and bank accounts 🤣) to help support this fight, just click here to make a tax-deductible donation!