Qualified Good News

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Just a few quick words about this evening’s decision of the Moscow City Council. As the title indicates, it was qualified good news. A zoning complaint had been filed against New St. Andrews College by three gentlemen who have a highly rarified and abstract love of the zoning code. The city official responsible for making the judgments in such cases decided in our favor. Love of the code inspired an appeal from our adversaries, and at the next level a city committee of adjustors decided against us. We then appealed to the city council, and they heard that appeal this evening. There are six council members, with the mayor chairing the meeting, and able to vote in case of a tie. The previous decision of the adjustors was upheld (which was unfortunate), and the vote was four to two. The two council members who voted in our favor were Joann Mack and Peg Hamlett. Judging from his comments during the discussion, it looks as though the mayor would have voted in our favor if he needed to break a tie.

So what is the good news, however qualified? The good news is that at least three of the council members who voted against us indicated that they knew the problem was with the wording of the code, and not with NSA’s presence downtown. The council clearly committed itself to a process of changing the code, the discussion making it plain that the city would not enforce the decision against us in the short run. This would leave time for the code to be changed — to prevent NSA from being left out in the cold. The discussion made it plain that out of the seven members there, six of them are on the record as supporting NSA being downtown, and the seventh didn’t make any comment on this one way or the other — so it may even have been seven out of seven. Some thought the existing language allowed for our presence there (which we also think), but even those who differed with this, thought that the language should be modified to keep us downtown.

So we are thankful to God, and would ask those who have been praying for us to give thanks as well. At the same time, we would ask for prayer that the city council would be diligent to follow through on what they committed themselves to tonight, which is a review of the code, and a modification of it that would address these concerns.

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