Zoning meetings can be deadly


A reader sent this CNN article about an Tennessee business owner who offed himself because the city wouldn’t allow him to make adjustments to his business in order to survive.

Sure, the guy was probably a bit off his rocker, but city councils can drive people batty! But if he lived in Hoboken, I’m sure fellow residents would have told him “If you don’t like the Council in Hoboken, just move to the suburbs!”

Man kills self in front of City Council after zoning decision

tennessee-council-suicide.jpgA business owner shot and killed himself during a City Council meeting Thursday night after members voted against his request to rezone his property, witnesses said.

Mayor Johnny Piper, third from left, talks with City Council members and others outside City Hall

Ronald “Bo” Ward, owner of Bo’s Barber Shop, had told the council his business would go under if he couldn’t get his home rezoned as commercial. After the 5-7 vote Thursday night, Ward stood and walked toward the council.

“Y’all have put me under. … I’m out of here,” he said before shooting himself in the head with a small handgun.

Fire and police officials attending the meeting immediately ushered the audience of about 50 into the hallway, where several people were sobbing.

At least one police officer is always on duty during council meetings, officials said. However, visitors are not required to go through a metal detector or any other screening.

“When a gun gets whipped out like that, someone is going to get shot, but I didn’t know who,” Councilman Bill Summers said. “You could’ve been right next to him, and I don’t think you could have stopped that.”

Mayor Johnny Piper said Thursday’s council meeting would be the last held in that room.

Ward had said the rezoning would increase his property value, allowing him to secure a loan to offset debt he incurred when he expanded his shop.

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3 Comments on "Zoning meetings can be deadly"

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hoboken should be so lucky.


Geez, this is sad. Anyone know how rezoning works? I was under the impression that the city council would hold public meetings, that if none of the other residents of the town/neighborhood had no problem with it, that rezoning such as this case would be approved. Why would this city ever reject it – though by narrow 5-7?


Hey man, nice shot.