BZA approves special exception for Moton Center

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Jun 27, 2012 - 02:41 PM

The Gloucester County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special exception Tuesday night that will allow the Gloucester Institute to reestablish the historic Moton Conference Center on Allmondsville Road near Cappahosic as a school and educational facility with a dormitory.

In granting the request, the BZA said that the construction must be completed within five years, with the first phase—a classroom facility—to be completed within 2½ years.

Also, the BZA set some landscaping requirements to provide better buffering to protect neighbors’ interests and set a 9 p.m. curfew for any planned outdoors activities at the campus, which Gloucester Institute representatives said served as a think tank for African Americans, was often used by civil rights groups and is said to be the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote at least part of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech about human equality.

Following a public hearing and discussion, member Clayton James moved to approve the application. Eric Foell seconded the motion, which passed 5-0; members Jim Leigh and C.W. Davis were absent.

Anthony Coles, site manager for the project, told the board the institute has in hand $800,000 toward its major construction project on the campus, which includes building upgrades, landscaping, and renovations to a swimming pool and tennis courts. In all, Coles said it will cost approximately $4 million to complete the construction project.

Although the institute does not yet have all of its funding, Coles said, he is confident that it will be able to find grants and receive continued support from private donors to complete the work within the five-year timeframe set by the BZA.