Bail bondsman David Beasley’s ongoing efforts to have his Rush Street property rezoned continued Monday when he presented his case for approval at the Central Citizens Advisory Council.
One of two zoning cases brought before the CAC, Z-12-14 would allow Beasley to continue running his bail bonding business from the south Raleigh property where he lives and works.
While CAC approval is not required in order for a zoning case to receive approval, both the Planning Commission and City Council encourage applicants to present their cases in this forum.
When the property Beasley owns at 320 Rush St. was rezoned in 1995 to allow commercial use, a condition was added that disallowed a bail bonding, check cashing or bank business from operating there. Beasley said at the time he was only planning on using the space as an administrative office, and had no objections to the restriction.
His business, AAA Bail Bonding, operated out of a downtown office building on Martin Street. When that building was condemned about 15 years later – Beasley said he had a mere two hours to clear out – he was forced to relocate his operations to the Rush Street location. By then, he said, he’d forgotten about the restriction entirely.
Around the same time, the city’s central intake center for new prisoners relocated from downtown to the new Wake County Detention Center on Hammond Road in South Raleigh, much closer to Beasley’s new office.
In August of 2013, Beasley was notified by the city that he was violating city rules, which restricted him from operating a bail bonding business on the property. Beasley said the ordinance was the result of the pastor of a nearby church who had been concerned about the kind of clientele a bail bonds business would bring. Beasley said most of their work is done at the jail, and that clients rarely come to his offices.
Beasley said he asked the city for an adjustment, citing the host of other bail bonding businesses that had recently cropped up in the area — including Top Notch Bail Bonds at 316 Rush St. — but was told his only option was a rezoning. Since then, Beasley has appeared before the Planning Commission, which on June 10 recommended the project for approval, and the City Council, which asked that he make an appearance before the CAC before making a final decision.
In fact, Beasley had brought his case to a CAC meeting in June — it just happened to be the wrong one. At Monday’s meeting, Beasley was accompanied by his friend and neighbor Doris Burke from the South CAC, who also spoke in favor of the rezoning.
“He is a very respectable citizen of our community, he’s really improved the area where he lives,” Burke said of Beasley.
The Central CAC voted unanimously in favor of the rezoning.
There was no vote either way for Z-15-14, the other zoning case heard that night. A partner from Raleigh’s Smith-Anderson law firm, Lacy Reaves, was on hand to explain that the rezoning was a result of the Unified Development Ordinance.
Reaves said he was there to talk about the “project on Blount at East Martin; a 23-story building under construction.”
“This building is zoned correctly under city code and was approved in 2012,” he added.
The reason Reaves was presenting the case, he said, was due to a change in city code. The UDO will require the property to be reclassified from general business to downtown mixed use. The luxury apartment building, SkyHouse, is being developed through a partnership between Raleigh’s Beacon Partners and Atlanta’s Novare Group.
During his later presentation, Beasley poked fun at the fact that he was there representing himself, noting, “I don’t have a lawyer in a bank building doing it for me.”
After the CAC voted on Beasley’s case, Reaves jokes that he wanted a vote for his project too, referring to Burke, added, “I’d like to have that lady speak for me.”