Charge prompts city to review ?backyard businesses? practices

Challenged with charges of discrimination, the City of Hillsboro faces some tough decisions about what to do about ?backyard businesses.?

The problem arose when the council pursued getting one such business owner to clean up his property. Now, leveled with a complaint that the city discriminated against one business while looking the other way regarding others, the council faces a difficult question.

?We?ve gone after one, now what are we going to do?? asked council member Leonard Coryea.

?Backyard businesses,? ones run out of people?s homes and garages without permits, are common in Hillsboro. City Superintendent Johnnie Liles believes the number comes to around 50.

?It is out of hand, it really is out of hand,? Mayor Delores Dalke said. ?This is happening all over town.?

Liles said a few such businesses not keeping their areas maintained have brought the issue to a head.

Businesses operating without permits are in violation of the city?s zoning codes, as well as being potential nuisances for neighbors and possible health risks.

?I know from the two towns I?ve lived in now, zones protect you,? Coryea said.

Liles said he has received a few complaints about some of the businesses. Only one home occupant in Hillsboro has filled out the proper paperwork and received a permit for the business.

?Most of the businesses pose no problems,? Coryea said.

The main problem is caused by the visible businesses.

?Some of the businesses I call the ?clean stuff??the business run in the garage that doesn?t offend anyone,? Coryea said.

One problem is caused when semi-trucks deliver goods in residential neighborhoods. Coryea said the trucks damage streets and then the city has to fix them.

Problems also arise when people begin putting signs up in their yards.

?If it ruins your aesthetic value, who wins and loses?? Coryea said.

Council member Clariece Schroeder asked what would be done about the businesses that cannot be seen.

?If you go after one that is visible, you have to go after the other that?s not,? she said.

?It?s just so bad you don?t want to get into it,? Coryea said.

He said the situation is similar to trying to define what ?junk? is?one person?s ?junk? can be another?s treasurer.

Council members were concern is what will happen to the businesses if the city is forced to cracked down.

?There are going to be some businesses that cannot comply and will be out of business,? Liles said. ?This is people?s livelihood.?

Liles said the upside would be that the businesses causing problems would be taken care of.

?I know one guy that everybody used; he could just close his doors and it would hurt us,? Coryea said.

He said if backyard businesses are closed, other businesses in town will pick up some of the services they provided but some will be lost.

?I just know feelings will be hurt,? Coryea said.

He said people call him to complain, hoping someone else will do something because they don?t want their neighbors to know they complained.

To get a conditional-use permit for a home occupancy, an individual must fill out an application and appear before the planning commission. Liles said it generally takes 45 to 60 days to receive a permit.

Conditional-use permits are granted when authorities recognize certain property uses may be desirable even though the activities are prohibited by zoning regulations. If the conditional use is found to be in the interest of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community, a permit may be granted.

The city looks at several factors before approving a permit, including stability and integrity of zoning districts, conservation of property values, protection against fire, and prevention of traffic congestion. City officials also look at traffic safety, safety of individuals and property, excessive intensity of land uses and provisions for orderly and proper renewal, development and growth.

?It?s going to be a pretty involved process,? Liles said.

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