Lawncrest residents approve plan for business on residential block

The house at 542 Levick St. in Lawncrest is three stories and zoned residential.

If owner Chandler Le gets his way, the Zoning Board of Adjustment will vote later this month to approve a variance allowing Le to operate his accountant business from the first floor of the home.  Currently vacant, the house would be converted to accommodate Le’s business on the first floor, while Le and his wife and children would live on the second and third floors.

Though Lawncrest Community Association members voted 26-11 last night to support Le’s plan, members had several questions about Le’s intentions and the future of the property.

Members approved the plan with three provisos:

  • the property be owner-occupied
  • the property be used exclusively for Le’s business and his family
  • the property not have off-street parking

Le expressed to LCA members that the budget constraints of starting a new business prevented him from setting up shop in one of the many vacant storefronts on Rising Sun Avenue, the neighborhood’s primary business corridor. Taking a leap of faith by allowing Le to operate a business on a residential block, members had the other dilemma of whether to change the property’s zoning.

Upcoming zoning

LCA members have until July to vote on whether to grant a variance to turn the old Oxford Hospital site at 623-27 Unruh Ave. into a 20-unit apartment complex. The issue will be discussed further at the June 12 LCA meeting.

Ultimately, members voted in favor of the zoning change. The provisos applied will be tied to the property, not Le, meaning he can be the only business operator and only tenant at 542 Levick Street. Should he decide to move, no other business could operate, nor could any other tenant move in. However, it would be up to the Department of Licenses & Inspections to enforce the zoning code if violated.

Le’s presentation and neighbors’ desire to see a higher caliber business than the daycare center and nail salons that clutter Rising Sun Avenue worked in Le’s favor. The final decision is left to the Zoning Board at its May 29 hearing. Le will first have to sell his house on Unruh Avenue to move into the Levick Street property.

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