A Morrell Park resident will get another shot at persuading the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment to allow her to operate a skin-care business in her single-family home.
On Jan. 21, the zoners unanimously and speedily rejected Mauren McKeown’s request for a variance to use part of her corner property on the 3300 of Morrell Avenue for her business and the remainder as her dwelling.
Since that hearing, McKeown has retained attorney Joseph Beller, and he argued for his client’s application to be reconsidered. The zoners agreed to that in February. The new hearing will be at 2 p.m. on April 2, Beller said on March 6. The zoning board meets on the 18th floor of 1515 Arch St.
McKeown previously got support for her variance from the Morrell Park Civic Association, but four residents who opposed it showed up at the Jan. 21 zoning board session with a petition signed by more than 140 others who didn’t like it either. City Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10th) sent a letter of opposition, an aide and an attorney to the January hearing to argue against the application.
“I couldn’t be more opposed to it,” O’Neill said the week before the hearing. At the time, the councilman said he couldn’t imagine that the zoners would approve McKeown’s request. He added that any decision for the applicant should be appealed.
“It flies in the face of the law,” O’Neill said.
Beller last week said he was present on another matter on Jan. 21 when the zoners denied McKeown’s variance application.
“She was stunned,” he said.
Because she was not represented by an attorney at that time, Beller said, his new client “told her story but didn’t address the legal issues” that apply to her situation. Because of that, he said, he thought it was reasonable to ask for a reconsideration.
“It’s not a simple matter,” Beller said.
The purpose of the zoning board is to allow, where appropriate, property uses other than those in strict compliance with the city’s code, Beller said. Since McKeown’s home is zoned for residential use only, she needs the zoners’ OK to operate her business there.
He said his client doesn’t want to turn the house completely into a commercial use. McKeown will continue to live on the property, and she will use it primarily as her residence, Beller said.
He said his client is asking only for permission for her to give facials there.
“Nobody is changing the zoning,” Beller said. “It will still be zoned as a house.”
Morrell Park resident Heather Stanton told the zoners on Jan. 21 that she feared the variance would stay with the property after McKeown sells it or moves her business elsewhere.
“This opens the doors for other businesses,” she said. “It is unnecessary.”
Beller said his client is willing to accept a zoners’ OK for a limited number of years. On Jan. 21, McKeown told the zoners she would move her skin-care business elsewhere if it becomes a success. She said she wanted to operate in her house for financial reasons.
“I’m hoping to move from my house to a storefront within three years,” McKeown told the zoning board on Jan. 21.
Beller said his client would accept provisos that would limit what she could do.
In January, McKeown told the zoners she would operate 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. She said her work would be by appointment only and that her clients would arrive 1 hour and 15 minutes apart.
In a letter read to zoners on Jan. 21, O’Neill said “hardship” must be proved for the zoners to agree to McKeown’s request. Hardship means, he explained a week earlier, that the property can not be used any other way than the way it is zoned. There is no hardship here, he told the zoners.
Neighborhood resident Kelly DiMartino told zoners on Jan. 21 that allowing a business in a residential neighborhood is a great harm to the area. It would hurt property values in what she called a “quiet and settled community.” ••