WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The Washington City Council voted unanimously to block a controversial basketball prep school dormitory in a residential neighborhood.
The decision came after a more than an hour-and-a-half public hearing that at times broke down into personal attacks.
Joe Davis initially requested the council change its zoning ordinance to allow for private dormitories. He wanted to turn the property on 1110 N. Market Street into a dormitory for 12 recruits who would attend his new basketball prep school.
The house is in a neighborhood zoned for single-family homes. It’s the main reason why many neighbors oppose a change.
However, Davis contended racism plays a role in the opposition.
“There are few things more frustrated than seeing opposition that wants to see a project fail for no other reason than ignorance and 1960-era racial bigotry,” he said.
Davis cited comments he felt were racist at a previous meeting on the same issue including one neighbor who said he didn’t want young men with boomboxes walking around the neighborhood.
Neighbor Michael Tahaney said race is not an issue. He supported a basketball prep school; just not in his neighborhood.
“It’s that this location is not the right location for this project,” Tahaney said. “Washington would be a great place to do this, but then let’s help them find [another] location.”
Despite the decision, Davis still plans to open his prep school at the beginning of September. He’s still working out which properties to house his students.
CORRECTION: A previous version of the article stated Davis would house the recruits in properties he owns in Greenville. Davis clarified he does own properties in Greenville, but he’s still deciding where specifically he will house the recruits