Tim Bass requested a special use permit for his building located at 9 Dickens Street in Greenbrier. Zoning for Multi-family in C-2 was requested for five apartments in this zoning area, each with its own garage. Each is a one bedroom apartment catering to the elderly with handicap accessibility. The commission members agreed unanimously to grant the request for multi-family dwelling in that area.
Dean Wilson asked to be on the agenda to address the commission members about a complaint of a neighbor running a business from his home. Although Wilson appeared before the commission by himself, he said he was representing about forty home-owners. Commissioner Snuggs asked, "Why aren’t they here with you?" Wilson said he did not feel it necessary.
Wilson went on to ask for clarification of the commission’s policy on "work from home"—specifically "section 10" in the code. He complained that a neighbor "took out a garage door and put in a man door" of his garage and was operating his handyman business from there. He complained that he had to "stand in the middle of the street during school bus times to make it safe for his grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood to get off busses safely"—that there were "constant" trucks going fast on his quiet neighborhood street "all day long—sometimes as many as five or six". He felt he was being ignored because he had written a letter to City Attorney Dustin Chapman without any satisfaction for his problem. Wilson said, "Commissioner McCune phoned him after investigating the business and said the home-owner was not nailing and hammering on the site, nor working on that site, and was within the city code."
Attorney Chapman pointed out that he represents the interests of the City of Greenbrier. He said, "You must get your own attorney for satisfaction." He further pointed out he had researched this business in that neighborhood to find there were no signs or ads nor any outward indication of any ongoing business at the address in question. None of the ads even suggested an address a customer could drive to. He had also driven by there to find only one truck on the property and the home and garage were not in any violation of any city codes of construction for that area.
Chairman Rowlett said, "I don’t disagree that you may have a traffic problem if there are oversize vehicles on your street." Wilson said, "No they are all the size of pick-up trucks with the business name printed on their side."
"In that case," said Rowlett, "it seems you should just call the police if they are speeding or ask City Council to install a speed bump; but that is not a Planning Commission issue. If there are five or six trucks parked in a yard over-night, then that’s an issue; but that’s not the case here. Seems these men who drive the pick-ups are picking up work orders in the morning, then returning with receipts and picking up other job orders throughout the day, then going on their way. If you had pictures of lots of trucks parked in a yard overnight, then you could file a complaint."
Rowlett further pointed out other businesses like Amway or Avon representatives who pick up their product from a home base do not park overnight nor stay any longer than to discuss business. "Inviting someone over to his house to discuss contracts is not the same as hammering and nailing that disturbs a neighborhood. A business in a residential area is allowed as long as it meets the criteria of our code. His garage is not a part of the main structure of his house and is within the code for buildings in that area."
Attorney Chapman pointed out the spirit of the city code is not to prevent a home-owner from working from his home if his building conforms to city codes. He said, "A man who offers a service that is not carried on in his home is like any other man who puts his pants on and goes to work each day. He conducts his business in someone else’s home and does his bookkeeping from his own home. That does not justify closing a home business or I could find everybody in town in violation of our code."
Commissioner Snuggs further suggested Wilson contact the Administrator of the covenant of the homes included in that area. The Commission found, with advice of Attorney Chapman, nothing actionable by the Planning Commission in Wilson’s complaints.
The Greenbrier City Planning Commission meets the third Monday of each month at 6:30 in City Hall on Wilson Farm Road.