“At this time we could not afford the $500 application fee, and I guess we’ll be looking into other places for our ministry sites,” said Mia Boyce, executive director.
Boyce had applied for the permit after the town denied Kingdom Care’s initial application for a zoning variance. According to Jackson County Planner Gerald Green, that’s because the zoning variance was simply the wrong route to take; variances provide an option to owners who want to develop their property outside of the existing standard but are using the property for an allowed use, while conditional use permits are a way to give the green light to an establishment whose use falls outside of existing zoning laws.
Zoning laws had been a problem for Kingdom Care because Forest hills has an ordinance that prohibits more than two unrelated people from sharing a home. The town board put the ordinance in place in 2010 to keep student housing for nearby Western Carolina University from overrunning the village. Because Kingdom Care would house as many as 15 women and six children, the ordinance affected it, too.
Boyce said she still plans to open the home, but she’s keeping an open mind geographically. She had been trying for the Forest Hills location because her mother-in-law owns an 11-bedroom house there that would have fit the bill perfectly, but she’s not tied to the idea of being in Forest Hills, Cullowhee or even Jackson County.
“I’m not sure where it’s going to be,” Boyce said.