The Fairfax County Board of Suregulation that will make it easier for people to start small businesses in their homes. But the regulations place some additional restrictions on professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, who practice in their homes.
Professionals already practicing in their homes will not be affected by the new restrictions. But these professionals, as well as those opening practices, as well as those opening practices, will be required to obtain a special use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals to continue their businesses.
Zoning administrator Gilbert R. Knowlton said the regulation governing home occupations will permit a wider variety of businesses to open. He noted, however, that the business will have to be operated only by people who use the dwelling as their residence; that there be no manufacturing, assembling or storing of products on the property, and that there be no exterior changes in the property.
The changes in the zoning ordinance came after a lengthy public hearing during which some doctors were highly critical of some staff proposals that were rejected by the board.
Under the staff proposals, professionals would have been able to practice only four hours a day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Dr. Elizabeth Johnson said that "not everybody gets sick befor 8 p.m." Dr. Richard Kapit, a psychiatrist, said the rejected changes were part of a "trend toward more regulatory government. Democracy is on the line in face of all this growth in government."
Supervisor Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason), answered Kapit by saying, "I for one am not voting to regulate what people do in their homes . . . But I can take you on a tour of Mason district and show you what business activity is doing to residential neighborhoods. I have the same concern that I would have if a McDonald's hamburger stand was going to be built in the middle of a residential neighborhood."
The changes in the zoning ordinace were prompted by complaints by residents in neighborhoods where doctors and other professionals have opened offices in their homes or in dwelling that are not used as residences.
Some of the most vocal complaints came from the residents of Sherwood Estates, which has become a popular place for doctors operating in homes because of the neighborhood's proximity to the new Mount Vernon Hospital.
In another matter, the Board yesterday proposed a new animal control ordinance that would require dogs to be outfitted with identification tags and leashes, prohibit the sale of chicks or ducklings and the use of animals as prizes in games, and make it illegal to own a wild animal such as a monley or a squirrel.
"I suppose we're going to have a very lengthy public hearing on these issues," Magazine said, in expectation of protests from pet owners.
Animals in the county have "always been a significant problem," said Board Chairman John F. Herrity. "You know, like dogs at large, cats up a tree. We've been fooling around with it (the ordinance) a long time."
The proposed amendments also would make it illegal to "override, overwork, ill-treat, abandon and animal, carry an animal in a vehicle in an inhumance manner or force an animal to perform unnatural circus-type acts.
According to the proposed ordinance, motorists who hit an animal would have to stop and report the accident.
The investigation of animal cruclty cases currently is handled by local animal welfare organization. Under the proposed ordinance, the investigations would be taken over by the county at an estimated cost of $50,000 the first year and $30,000 in following years.
Part of the proposed ordinance would also allow sick or injured animals to be put to death on the spot if it is felt by a humance officer that chances for their recovery are poor. Under current law wardens usually wait seven days before killing sick animals.
Penalties for animal ordinance convictions would remain the same, usually ranging between $5 and $25 for each offense. A public hearing on the ordinances is scheduled for Jan. 24.