Haverhill to Consider Zoning Change to Help Home-Based Businesses Serving Students

Haverhill Health and Inspectional Services Director Richard MacDonald. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill will consider adjusting its zoning rules after a local artist was forced to close his home studio because of a neighbor’s complaint.

Paul Prue has been teaching arts and crafts at his 21 Salem St. home for the past 50 years, but was recently ordered by Haverhill Inspectional Services to stop seeing students there. Prue brought the issue to the Haverhill City Council last week.

“I’m teaching drawing to kids. I’m teaching stained glass classes. As a full-time musician, I’ll teach guitar lessons also. It’s how I’ve made my living all my life, so to have this taken, it’s just taken me by surprise,” he explained.

Prue said he is aware of many people teaching guitar from their homes and believes he should be allowed to do so as well.

Health and Inspectional Services Director Richard MacDonald said he sympathizes with Prue’s plight, but his office was required to act.

“We do not go out and target individuals. It was a complaint. Unfortunately, our zoning is what we follow and you cannot have students come to your home to give lessons,” he said.

Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua asked if the city’s home business zoning clause might apply. Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., however, noted that while certain home-based business may have employees, it does not allow students. He said a change in the language of the zoning law was the only solution.

“So, I think a language change to the zoning is really the means and method in broadening what is a home occupation and how it would allow for students to be in various locations,” Pillsbury advised.

Council voted 8-0, with Councilor Michael S. McGonagle absent, to send a request for a draft zoning change to the Planning Board and City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr.

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