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Home occupation resolution concerns local businessman

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Tony Casarez, owner of Tony’s Exterminating, stands in his home that he built himself as his company grew. Casarez worries a proposed city resolution on home occupations would keep young business owners from enjoying the kind of success he has in nearly 50 years in business. (Juno Ogle Photo)

As Tony Casarez built his pest control business over nearly 50 years, he also built a home for his wife and family of four children. Now, he worries a proposed city resolution will prevent others from having the same opportunity at success he’s had.

Casarez, 82, leaves the spraying to his grandson, Gerald, but still gives estimates and runs his company, Tony’s Exterminating. He also keeps busy around his home and workshop on Mathews Street, restoring classic vehicles and planning to build a patio on the back of his abobe house.

It’s a house that Casarez has been able to add on to over the years thanks to the success of his business, he said. The original 25-foot by 25-foot, two-bedroom, one bath home is now the master bedroom. He’s built the additions himself, from the tiled floors in the large kitchen and dining room to the arched doorways and skylights in hallways.

The two driveways in front can park 10 vehicles. Most are personal vehicles of his family, but two are company pickups. In the back yard, behind a 6-foot cinder block fence, are three other work-related vehicles along with yard equipment, gardens, a small tractor and his classic vehicles. A wide rolling gate that matches the iron fence in front offers access to the alley. A large workshop is where he’s built his own spraying equipment for his company.

He said he’s never received complaints from his neighbors about the number of vehicles or equipment on his property, and points out several of his neighbors in the southeast section of town also have work trucks and even tractors at their residences.

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“All these new homes is because of people that have prospered with their work. This neighborhood is full of nice homes, but in between there’s junk,” he said.

He worries that the resolution to be considered Thursday would hamper the future prosperity of his neighborhood.

Resolution 20-06 is scheduled to have a public hearing and vote by the Roswell City Council during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The resolution would revise Article 62 of the city code concerning home occupations. It would add to the guidelines for home businesses, adding a limit of two regular-sized work-related vehicles or trailers parked in a home’s driveway. Those types of vehicles parked in a rear or side yard would be required to have street access, and would be prohibited from alley access or being parked in the street.

Further revisions would prohibit trucking companies that involve parking or storage of oversized vehicles and trailers and heavy construction equipment. Small engine repair would also be prohibited on the owner’s residence, but would be allowed as a mobile service.

Contractors, maintenance businesses such as landscapers, trucking companies and similar occupations would receive a home occupation license for scheduling, bookkeeping and clerical work by immediate family who live on the premises.

Casarez isn’t concerned about how the resolution might affect him or his grandson, who is poised to take over the company someday. Casarez said if needed, he would find a location to store his company vehicles, or help his grandson with financing to do so. But he said the resolution would hurt those in his neighborhood who are just starting businesses.

“Beginners don’t have the money to go and rent a commercial place or buy it to park their vehicles,” he said.

“That’s not the right way to go in America. This is the land of opportunity and everybody should be allowed to take that opportunity,” he said.

Casarez said he worried those young business owners would give up their own companies rather than take on the added expense of finding commercial property to rent or buy.

“A lot of them are probably going to lose their intent and go find a job with somebody else. And there’s a lot of people unemployed already,” he said.

Bill Morris, community development director with the city of Roswell, said the resolution isn’t intended to prohibit those with small, start-up businesses. The city looks at home occupations as a business incubator, he said.

“What’s happening is that we’ve got some businesses that have overgrown their stay and they’re having an impact on others,” he said.

It’s especially common in trades like landscaping and contracting that use large equipment and have employees who meet at the residence early in the morning and take company vehicles to a job site.

“We have just a huge number of cars and trucks. At 5:30 in a lot of streets you don’t have two lanes of traffic. All the trucks have come home and they’re on both sides, they’re in the alleys, they’re in the driveways, they are everywhere. We’re dealing with those businesses that are basically using their home as a commercial staging area,” Morris said.

A sole proprietorship or even a small company would not be affected by the resolution, Morris said.

“It allows for some people to come in and have a couple of employees. The intent is to let them get started, grow the business a little bit. And then, like children, they’re supposed to leave the nest,” he said. “But like children today, a lot of them aren’t.”

The resolution came about in part from complaints the city had received, but also from city staff reviewing various zoning codes, Morris said.

“Zoning codes should be amended every once in a while so you can try to keep up with current conditions,” he said.

The resolution was drafted over about five months in the city’s planning and zoning division before going to committees and the City Council, Morris said. Much of it reiterates what is already in city code such as prohibiting semis and tow trucks in residential areas, he said.

“You can’t have oversized vehicles, and that’s something that’s already in the code, but we wanted to really make sure that everybody understood oversized vehicles are not allowed in residential areas,” he said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.