The Saratoga Sun -

Letter to the editor: Why the permit fuss?



Why the big fuss?

As planning commission members, city ordinance 18.03.10 gives us some general guidelines for deciding the issues brought before us. I personally have some guiding principles. First, I try to always be even handed in my decisions. I consider neighbors, property values, and any future impact my decision might have.

Recently there has come an issue before us as to the interpretation of what requires a special use permit as to home occupations, particularly as to how our ordinance 18.06.190 is interpreted. 18.06.190 is broken into 4 paragraphs, “A” through “D”. Paragraph “A” basically gives the parameters around a home occupation stating that a home occupation cannot change the underlying characteristics of the residential district it is in by increasing traffic, outside storage, and other things that would have a negative impact on the district as a whole. Paragraph “B” gives a list of 9 “permitted uses”. Paragraph “C” gives a list of “prohibited uses”. And finally section “D” states that any use not expressly listed in “B” or “C” must come to the planning commission as a conditional use.

So why the big fuss? There is an honest disagreement among our board as to the 9 items in section “B” and as to whether we should require a special use permit. I believe that the listed items in section “B” are normal activities that are common to most homes in our community and have little if any impact outside the four walls of people’s homes. If any of those activities were to grow so that there was an impact those issues are clearly addressed in paragraph “A”. I am a big proponent of individual rights and I believe that while it is our job to protect our neighborhoods it is not our job to micromanage what activities happen inside individual property owner’s homes as long as those activities do not have a negative impact to neighbors, neighborhoods, or are otherwise illegal.

I am fighting for our rights as property owners not to be required to get onerous permits for the 9 listed activities, as long as those activities do not have the negative impacts as stated in section “A”. At last night’s planning commission a motion carried to begin work to clarify this issue in our ordinances. I would encourage all interested property owners to weigh in with your suggestions.

Finally, I would like to express that my view may not be the view of all our members, but having served on the planning commission for many years now, I know that each of our board members works hard to look out for your best interest. Serving on the planning commission can often be a thankless job, and we rarely make everyone happy in any given situation. I for one appreciate anyone who is willing to serve, even when we have fundamental disagreements.

Rory Grubb



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