Process long, but ends with permit

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 09:16 PM

At long last, after following city guidelines for most of the calendar year, Frances Finamore has her special use permit to see counseling clients in a designated area of her home.

The Henderson Zoning Board of Adjustment decided unanimously for approval after a final public hearing drew no objections from neighbors on Tuesday.

Finamore’s odyssey came to light after a March 4 decision by the planning board to recommend the City Council allow supportive counseling for mental health as an approved home business in her designated residential zone.

City Attorney John Zollicoffer, not available for the March 4 hearing, told the council in April that the recommendation would be out of sync with city zoning rules.

That resulted in a series of discussions that took several months to resolve focused on home businesses that are allowed in eight zoning designations but not in several others in Henderson.

At two public hearings in August, one before city planners and another again before the council, some neighbors expressed doubts about Finamore’s home business plan, citing traffic-related concerns.

Planners recommended, and the council adopted, a change in residential zoning designation for her property at 710 Parham St., from R15, meaning moderate to low density residential, to R6 high density residential.

The city also added mental health counseling to the list of approved home businesses for high-density residential areas as well as other designated city zones that allow home businesses.

After nine meetings and hearings, Finamore is glad that she finally has good news for her clients and potential clients ready to begin what she characterized as a humble work of counseling mildly troubled or challenged individuals.

She told zoning board members that she does not take in serious or deep psychological cases, sexual offenders or persons with pronounced suicidal or homicidal problems.

“I would not jeopardize my own safety, let alone anyone else’s safety,” Finamore said. “Predominantly, I would like to work with veterans who are returning from overseas and face adjustment difficulties.”

She said her hours will run from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m., on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, one client at a time by appointment only. The scope of help would run two or three months using cognitive restructuring and behavior modification techniques.

The zoning adjustment board made her stated hours the allowed scope of operation for her business, adding she cannot place a sign for her counseling work or advertise with her address included.

“I’ll never have more than 24 clients,” Finamore said. “I have several now. It will take a while to get more of the appropriate clients.”

None of the past objections from neighbors were heard on Tuesday. Ken Roll and Phil Hanny, two neighbors who spoke in favor at past hearings, said Finamore’s work would be a credit to the community.

“I’m all in favor of what she is trying to do,” Roll said.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.