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Council approves revisions to home occupations code

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An ordinance revising city code that, among other things, places further restrictions on what home occupation-related vehicles can be parked in residential areas, passed with a split vote at Thursday night’s meeting of the Roswell City Council.

The vote on Ordinance 20-08 was six to four, with Councilors Judy Stubbs, Jason Perry, Margaret Kennard, Jeanine Best, Savino Sanchez and Barry Foster voting in favor. Councilors Juan Oropesa, Angela Moore, Jacob Roebuck and George Peterson voted against it.

The resolution revises Article 62 of the city code concerning home occupations. It adds to the guidelines limiting home-based businesses to two regular-sized work-related vehicles or trailers parked in a home’s driveway.

In addition, work-related vehicles parked in a rear or side yard would be required to have street access, and are prohibited from access to an unpaved alley 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.

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Before the final vote, Perry successfully made several amendments to the resolution, adding language that further defined what is considered heavy equipment and the storage of work-related items.

Foster also offered an amendment to one section to specify that work-related vehicles that can be stored in a residential area are prohibited from having access to an unpaved alley so it would not conflict with existing city code allowing vehicle access to paved alleys.

Oropesa and Peterson consistently voted against the amendments, with the remaining eight councilors voting for the amendments.

Bill Morris, city of Roswell community development director, said the resolution addresses an issue the city has received many comments and complaints about, specifically heavy equipment such as front-end loaders or dump trucks being stored in residential areas.

“The impacts to those adjacent communities can be severe,” he said.

Oropesa and Roebuck, who both represent Ward I, spoke against the resolution. Oropesa said the resolution would create a hardship for many of the ward’s residents.

“I personally believe this is probably the wrong time to pass these kinds of changes, considering the challenging times that we’re living in as far as the pandemic are concerned,” Oropesa said.

The changes would require some business owners to take on the additional expense of finding a commercial property to store their vehicles, he said.

“They’re going to find themselves in a bind. We’re almost requiring them to find money so they can abide by the changes,” he said.

Roebuck said he was concerned the resolution took on too much. It also addresses zoning issues such as property setback requirements, the number of dwelling units on a lot, RV park standards and requirements, and building and performance standards.

The resolution started about a year ago addressing home occupations and was added to as city staff began examining zoning laws for updates, Morris said.

“I feel like this is a case where we’ve taken a small problem and the bureaucracy has expanded perhaps unnecessarily,” Roebuck said.

He was also concerned by the lack of definition of “minor” and “major” home occupations.

“There’s no way for someone who is in a home business for them to understand what category they would fall into,” he said.

Both categories of home occupations are allowed, but major home occupations require a conditional use permit approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission before a business license can be issued.

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