“It would have been very foolish of us to take ownership of a location and not be sure we could use it as such,” Durham County Republican Party chairman Immanuel Jarvis told the INDY
last month, after we questioned whether the local GOP chapter was violating local ordinances by housing its new headquarters in a home zoned for residential use.
Turns out: It was!
Durham's planning department subsequently sent a notice of violation to the property owner—the GOP was leasing the home, which is at 215 N. Briggs—and gave it a month to file a response and a formal plan to come into compliance.
It's now been a month. Bo Dobrzenski, a planning supervisor with the city, tells the INDY
that the zoning enforcement case has been closed.
"The tenant's representative [Jarvis] informed us that they would be sub-leasing the home to an individual to use it as a single family dwelling," Dobrzenski writes in an email. "I informed them at the time we would continue to monitor the site to ensure compliance with the UDO [unified development ordinance]."
But Jarvis' account to the city clashes with the recent experiences of Trace Ramsey, who owns the home next-door to 215 N. Briggs.
"Lots of people stopping by to pick up Trump signs," Ramsey tells the INDY
. "The person staying there only seems to stay overnight when there is a delivery of yard signs. [The other night], it was Bob Hunter dropping off his signs for Court of Appeals and [telling neighbors he is] 'hoping to do really well in this neighborhood.'"
Hmm. Maybe the sub-leaser Jarvis found is just a huge Sue Googe fan?
Reached by the INDY, Jarvis says that after discussing the situation with the city, the Durham GOP "decided it was probably in the best interest for us and the city and our neighbors if we leased out the property to somebody who would utilize it in a residential capacity."
Jarvis says the property has been subleased to "a person who needed a place to stay and didn't have a tremendous amount of resources. We figure we can help somebody in the community by giving them a relatively low rent while finishing out our responsibilities with the lessor."
Does that person work for the Durham Republican Party?
"The person is a registered Republican in Durham County, yes, but he is also a private resident," Jarvis says. "I'm not sure what he's doing there, but he's free to do as he pleases as a resident as long as he's not causing a nuisance. I haven't been over there for two weeks or so. I'm probably going by later today, actually. We still have some things to move out of there."