Haverhill Adopts Zoning Change, Allowing Students at Small, Home-Based Studios

Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr.. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A Haverhill music and art teacher is back in business after the City Council Tuesday approved a citywide zoning change, allowing him to teach at his home studio again.

Back in December, Paul Prue was forced to stop teaching at his 21 Salem St. home following a complaint by one of his neighbors. Prue said had been teaching arts and crafts and guitar at his home for about 50 years, but was ordered to stop by Haverhill Inspectional Services.

Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr. said, at the time, the problem stemmed from zoning language, which allows home-based businesses to have employees, but not students.

As a result, City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. told the Council he and Pillsbury, along with Health and Inspectional Services Director Richard MacDonald, came up with revised language to amend the oversight.

“I consulted with Mr. Pillsbury and also with Mr. MacDonald, and we put together the ordinance that you have in front of you. We think that it is reasonable,” he said.

That ordinance, which was also endorsed by the Planning Board, now follows the term “employees” with the phrase “except for not more than five music or art pupils at any time and only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday.”

It is another example that, contrary to the saying, one can fight City Hall and win.

Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan expressed his pleasure with the way the situation worked out.

“When this came before us, this was disturbing because there are so many people that operate small art or music type studios in their homes. This could have had a real negative impact on more than just the person who was being aggrieved by this, so I want to congratulate everyone for doing this,” he said.

Councilors voted unanimously to adopt the zoning change.

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