Henderson planners asked for second review

Apr. 09, 2013 @ 06:14 PM

Henderson leaders on Monday said they hope a mental health counseling business can start up as a home occupation on Parham Street, but city planners need to review the details again.

The Henderson City Council also approved rezoning 85 tracts of land on Julia and Francis avenues, transferring them from low- to high-density residential development rules, correcting an ordinance problem that restricted the properties from being properly useable.

The council heard mental health counselor Frances Finamore’s request to change the city’s zoning rules so she could start a home-based mental health occupation at her 710 Parham Street home.

She and City Planning Director Erris Dunston assured the council there would be no additional employees, and there would be no visible commercial impact in the neighborhood.

The Henderson City Planning Board approved making their recommendation in favor of the request, but they did so without consultation on the existing home occupation rules.

Dunston said home occupations in Henderson typically involve one-person businesses such as single-chair beauty shops or one-person garment alteration work, what she described as low-impact in light of little or no traffic and parking issues.

Engineers, architects and surveyors as well as the hair dressers and seamstresses are allowed as home occupations in eight lesser restrictive zoning districts, according to John H. Zollicoffer, the city attorney.

“There are no medical related occupations allowed, however, and there are no occupations at all allowed in this zoning district,” Zollicoffer said. “None are allowed in R-15.”

Approval of the request as presently issued would place mental health counseling as the only home occupation allowed in R-15 areas while they would still not be allowed in areas that include the other allowed home occupation businesses.

Council members said Finamore’s idea does not lack merit, it only lacks precedence in Henderson, so planners should work out those details in order for her to proceed.

Finamore said she works with clients in their homes, and many of the people she helps are veterans. She would be utilizing already designated space for counseling work at her home.

“I am a licensed professional counselor,” Finamore said. “I have an office in the front area of my home.”

Councilman Garry Daeke, who made the motion for the ordinance to be reviewed again by the city planning board, apologized to Finamore for the added delay.

Dunston, on the issue to correct the zoning rules for 85 tracts in the Julia and Francis avenues area, said the lots are much too small for the low-density rules.

“The lots are small, and the setbacks are too large for many of them to even be used at all,” Dunston said, referring to the rules for how much distance should remain between structures and property margins. “This is a well developed neighborhood.”

Councilman Michael Rainey, also a planning board member, said he spoke to residents of the area who came to the board’s hearing mainly out of curiosity.

“We explained it to them, and they left here happy and satisfied,” Rainey said.

The council approved the rezoning unanimously, changing setbacks from 25 to 15 feet in the rear, shaving five feet in the front to 25 and side setbacks are now eight feet instead of 15.

In other business:

• The council nixed an economic development grant for Vescom America Real Estate Holding, taking five available $12,000 annual incentive grants away because the company did not respond to city invitations to claim them.

• The council approved a $295,000 bid on equipment purchases already budgeted through Sun Trust Equipment Finance & Leasing Corp., to buy a dump truck, a tractor/bush hog, a backhoe and a service truck for the utility departments.

• Council members expressed enthusiasm about prospects of an expanded David Street Park, approving their part in releasing five properties to be added to the park’s boundaries. Vance County commissioners are required to agree to release their share of ownership of the properties also before they can be added to the park.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.