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Board recommends expanding where home businesses can operate

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Board of Planning and Zoning unanimously approved a staff request to increase the number of residential zoning districts where home-based businesses are allowed to operate.

The board took the vote at its March 19 meeting. The  Greenville City Council will consider the proposal at its April 11 meeting.

Chief Planner Chantae Gooby said staff proposed amending the zoning ordinance’s table of uses after a local woman sought a special use permit to operate a barber/beauty shop as a home occupation. The woman lived in a neighborhood zone R9S, which is a zoning designation for single-family homes.

Gooby said staff started researching the text of the zoning ordinance text and agreed that single-family zoning districts were more appropriate for home occupations than some of the areas where it’s currently allowed.

Home businesses are allowed in areas with RA20, R6, R6A residential zoning and and CDF (commercial downtown fringe) zoning. The proposal sought to add R6S, R9S and R15S zoning districts to locations that home businesses can operate.

The city’s definition of home occupation is “An activity conducted for financial gain as an accessory use to a detached single-family dwelling unit by a member of the family residing in the dwelling unit.” It goes on the say that the operation of a barber and beauty shop or a similar personal services business is limited to one operator, a person who lives at the house, and not outside employee is allowed to work at the business.

“It is literally for the person who lives there,” Gooby said.

The business can not be operated in a “detached accessory structure or building” like a shed or a garage. The business has to be housed inside the dwelling unit, Gooby said.

There can only be one employee, the resident.

There can be no outside storage, the only permittable signs can only be two feet and must to attached to an exterior wall. And while only one person can work at the businesses, the site must have four parking spaces, two for customers and two for employees.

Planning board members said they thought that language might confuse individuals even though earlier ordinance language states that only a resident of the house can work at the business.

Even if the business meets all the criteria, the owner still will need a special-use permit from the Board of Adjustment before opening, Gooby said.

Board member Hap Maxwell asked about the thinking behind prohibiting the use of a detached structure for a home business.

The city’s definition of a home occupation requires the business to be carried out inside the home, according to Gooby.

“So, if somebody is using his outbuilding to work on furniture, refinished furniture, that’s not allowed?” Maxwell asked.

“Is it a hobby or is it a job?” Gooby asked.

“When we say home occupation, what you should be thinking about is a service as a product,” she said. The service should be the business, not repairs, not selling products.

Gooby said while refinishing furniture could be considered a service, it’s an operation that requires the use of chemicals that might be considered noxious.

“It probably would not meet our description (guidelines),” Gooby said.

Board member Kevin Faison wanted to know why the city thought it was better to work inside of a spare bedroom as opposed to a detached building. He questioned if someone needed to propose a text amendment allowing businesses in residential areas to operate in detached structures.

It would chance the dynamics of the zoning regulations, Gooby said.

“The whole principal behind this is you can do (the work) in your home but it not be obvious to your neighbors that you are running a business,” she said.

Board member May Ray Joyner III said it makes sense because neighbors would not want someone to build a structure in his or her backyard in order to operate an auto repair business.

“It’s very prescribed, very limited,” Gooby said.

Amending map

The board also approved amending the city’s future land use and character map for 3 acres of property located on the southeastern corner of the intersection of MacGregor Downs and B’s BBQ roads.

The map has the property listed as residential, high density and the owners, Ocean Reef Investments, wanted it changed to commercial land use.

Gooby said staff opposed the change because the property is surrounded by high density multi-family units and its currently zoned medical office which would allowed office buildings, single family homes and institutional/civic entities to use the property.

Mike Baldwin said the property has been on the market for five years and has not sold, which indicates no one is interested in using the property for offices or single family homes.

“To come to an intersection and put high density residential at a hard corner, where there is commercial at other corners, it doesn’t seem like good planning to me,” Baldwin said.

It was noted that both commercial businesses and residential development surround the property. Faison said he could see the property remaining residential high density or becoming commercial.

A motion was made to change the text ordinance and it was approved.

The request also is scheduled to be on the Greenville City Council’s April 11 agenda.

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