The New Carrollton City Council last week recommended that the county allow a dancing instructor to continue teaching in her home, despite zoning problems and complaints from an irate neighbor.
County zoning authorities now must decide whether to grant Rita Cocchiaro a special exception and permit her to continue teaching in her home at 6123 Lamont Dr., as she has for two decades. County law prohibits dance studios in private homes.
Cocchiaro and a neighbor, Betty Quigley, ran dance studios in their homes until another neighbor complained. The county told the two teachers to close their studios within 30 days.
Quigley stopped teaching, but Cocchiaro appealed and continued to teach in her home. Cocchiaro was granted several grace periods while she applied for special exception to the zoning law.
In April, Quigley complained that Cocchiaro's appeal process was taking too long.
"I taught dancing from my home and in other places for more than 21 years and had to close my studio at home, while someone only five doors away Cocchiaro is still working," Quigley said. "If the community has to abide by certain rules, it is only fair that we all live and abide by the same rules."
Although Cocchiaro got the city's backing, City Administrator John Brunner said Cocchiaro must comply with these six conditions:
* At least 50 percent of her students must live or have lived in New Carrollton.
* She cannot teach more than 20 hours a week.
* A class cannot have more than 12 people. That requirement is designed to keep traffic in the area under control.
* Parents and students can use the street only for dropping people off, not for parking.
* The special exception will end once Cocchiaro stops teaching.
* Cocchiaro must maintain records showing she is meeting all the conditions.
In other business, the council recommended a special exception for a newly built Gulf station at 7703 Annapolis Rd. The owners want to use a free-standing sign on the premises but are prohibited because of a county law.
The Gulf station fronts on a side street and properties fronting on a side street cannot have free-standing signs.