Saying their action will modernize a badly outdated zoning law, the Vienna Town Council has made it easier for town residents to operate businesses out of their homes.
The old ordinance, which has stood essentially unchanged since 1949, was "unenforceable" and caused residents who would ordinarily comply with the law to break it, said council member Robert W. Robinson.
"If a person wants to make dolls, for instance, and sell them," said Robinson, "they can't get a home occupation permit, because the law says they can't store equipment or merchandise in their home."
In addition, he noted, restrictions on the size of commercial delivery trucks going to and from town homes were "unrealistic" because they prohibited deliveries from vehicles the size of United Parcel Service trucks. "These days, virtually all delivery trucks are that size," he said.
Town resident Burnett Shaffer of Wilmar Place said he agreed that the law was too restrictive. "Effectively, the law as written is saying that no one can operate a business in their home," he said. "There is no way an individual can have a business without storing some sort of equipment."
The amendments enacted Monday allow equipment or merchandise to be stored at a person's home as long as they are not stored outside the dwelling. They also eliminate restrictions on the size of vehicles making commercial deliveries to and from homes.
Former Chamber of Commerce President Robert Dix said that examining how the town will deal with so-called cottage industries is an important issue that has been put off for too long. "Due to the existence of the information age, more and more people are operating data processing, mail order and word-processing businesses out of their homes. We need to review this issue from top to bottom," he said.
A key issue, said Dix, is an item in the town code prohibiting employes who do not live on the premises to work at a home. "Many businesses need clerical workers to come in for a few hours a day," said Dix.
Rather than conduct an overall review of the issue, however, the council elected to pass just the two amendments and then table the issue for a year.
Dix said he was satisfied with the council's actions. "We'll see how the process goes. We don't want to ask for too much," he said.
Resident Shaffer, whose application to operate a business restoring furniture and small collectibles out of his home was denied by the Board of Zoning Appeals, said only, "I hope they'll approve my application now."
In other business, five-term council member Donald E. Upchurch announced he will not run for reelection in the May 7 general election. Upchurch, 60, has lived in Vienna for 25 years and held various positions with the town since the early 1970s. Council member E. Ross Buckley praised Upchurch as a "tireless worker and an attractive leader" whose "knowledge and level-headedness will be missed greatly."
Council members Robinson and Rodger W. Seeman had previously announced their candidacies for re-election.
The council also gave permission to the Central Intelligence Agency to construct an asphalt walkway to connect the Contel-Page building in the Technology Park on Follin Lane to the Regional Park Authority Trail. The walkway will pass 50 feet of town property.
The CIA has indicated in writing to the council that CIA personnel will be instructed not to park on adjacent residential streets and will be reprimanded if they do so. Council member George E. Lovelace said "should the CIA abuse the privilege and not conform to the parking restrictions, then we will take action against them."
The council also turned over to the Transportation Safety Commission a request by several town residents that a traffic light be placed at the intersection of Nutley Street and Kingsley Road. On Jan. 14, Vicki B. Malone, 30, of 1002 Hillcrest Dr., was killed at the intersection after she was hit by a car. A spokeswoman for the public works department said that under normal conditions a traffic signal costs approximately $35,000.