Owner Of Illegal Watauga Boarding Houses Plans To Sell Them

Andrew Greenstein
April 03, 2019 - 5:25 pm

Andrew Greenstein

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WATAUGA (1080 KRLD) - The Arizona woman who owns a pair of houses in a new Watauga neighborhood that she's been using as boarding houses plans on selling them.

Deborah Smith, 59, who lives in a suburb of Phoenix, bought the adjacent houses on Spring Dr. in August of last year.

She rented the houses to young adults who attend a nearby unaccredited Christian school.

"I purchased the homes only to provide safe Christian housing for the students," Smith says.

When Smith was informed of Watauga's law that no more than four unrelated adults can live under a single roof, she filed applications for Boarding House Specific Use Permits.

After she was informed that the houses were unsuitable for the revisions necessary to use them as boarding houses, she withdrew her applications.

The city is now giving Smith 30 days to comply with the law.

Smith says she should be able to meet that deadline.

"School ends in two weeks, and some of them had already planned on going back home when school ends," Smith says. "So they're making their own arrangements."

Some homeowners in the Parkview Addition neighborhood say that's not soon enough.

"They need to move out right now," says Ralph Cotnoir, who lives next door to the boarding houses. "They don't need to be given 30 days, because they've been in violation of law since August of last year."

One of the houses is a four-bedroom model with an office that was converted to a bedroom.

The other is a three-bedroom, also with an office converted to a bedrooom.

Nine men are sharing the four-bedroom house, while seven women are sharing the three-bedroom house.

With 16 people living in those two houses, that has led to several cars being parked on the side of the street -- in some cases, blocking homeowners' driveways and a fire hydrant.

Smith says she's sorry for any inconvenience her tenants may have caused.

"I just want to offer my apologies," says Smith. "We're there to try to improve the community, not to create any type of disharmony."

With Smith limited to renting her houses to no more than four tenants at a time, she says that will be untenable.

"Unfortunately, I'm going to have to eventually sell the homes, and I'll relocate into an area nearby where the zoning is different," Smith says. "If I keep the homes and there are only four students in each home, it doesn't cover my costs."

Smith does not have a set timetable for selling the homes.

"It would be within the next several months," she says.