Lowney v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Black Point Beach Club Association
A zoning board of appeals possesses the prerogative to decide that a proposed grooming business does not qualify as a "home occupation," because it is more similar to prohibited than to permitted uses. The plaintiff, Maureen Lowney, owns residential property and sought permission to operate a pet grooming business in the garage. The zoning regulations provide that certain home businesses, such as offices or studios of an "architect, artist, economist, engineer, insurance agent, lawyer, photographer, or real estate broker," are permitted, as "home occupations." The zoning enforcement officer denied the plaintiff's request as result of concerns about the proposed location, which would not be in a "dwelling," and the potential disruption to the neighborhood. The plaintiff appealed, and the plaintiff's attorney claimed that the attached garage was within the "dwelling." The zoning enforcement officer testified that the garage was not part of the "dwelling." The zoning board of appeals compared the proposed grooming business to a hair salon, which the regulations do not permit as a "home occupation," and affirmed. The trial court found that although a grooming business could qualify as a "home occupation," because it has far fewer customers than a hair salon, and will generate minimal traffic, a "dwelling" is restricted to that "part of the structures within which people actually reside." The trial court concluded that an owner may not run a home business from a residential garage, regardless of whether the garage is attached or unattached to the residence. The plaintiff appealed. The zoning regulations expressly exclude barbershops, beauty parlors and animal hospitals, regardless of the amount of traffic generated. The Appellate Court, ruling on an alternate ground, found that the minimal amount of traffic that will be generated by the plaintiff's grooming business is insufficient to find it qualifies as a "home occupation." It was within the zoning board of appeals' prerogative to find a grooming business is more similar to prohibited uses than to permitted uses. The Appellate Court affirmed, on an alternate basis, the judgment of the trial court to deny the plaintiff's request to operate a business from her residential dwelling.