A Dunwoody North resident is seeking to open a physical therapy business in his home on Brookhurst Drive. But he’s facing some opposition from neighbors who fear a precedent will be set and unlock the door to more home businesses in the residential neighborhood.
Rhett Roberson, who lives at 2346 Brookhurst Drive, is asking the City Council to approve a special land use permit to allow him to home a physical therapy clinic in his basement. The Planning Commission voted Dec. 13 to recommend denial of the SLUP, but city staff is recommending approval. The City Council was expected to vote on second and final read of the request on Jan. 23.
At the City Council’s Jan. 9 meeting, Judy Hofer said she is a 35-year resident of Dunwoody and is the chair of the Dunwoody North Civic Association’s Neighborhood Watch program. She told the council she fears “a steady stream of strangers” coming into her neighborhood to visit the proposed home-based business.
“This is a quiet, residential neighborhood. We pay attention to who lives here,” she said. “Our zoning is strictly residential.”
Roberson is seeking to be approved as a Type B business, which allows customers to come to the site. Roberson, who holds a full-time job at the Sports Rehabilitation Center with offices in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Buckhead/Brookhaven, told the council he wants to open his own business to serve clients better and with the hopes of opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Dunwoody in the future.
“By no means do I want to compromise the family nature of the neighborhood,” he said. “Many home businesses operate under the radar but I want to do everything by the letter of the law.”
Roberson said through the years he has seen huge increases in healthcare costs and how insurance companies will only approve a certain number of physical therapy sessions. By opening his own home business, Roberson said he wants to continue seeing clients who are able to pay out of pocket for his services after their insurance runs out.
Roberson is proposing to serve one client at a time with his business hours set from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday with weekend hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking would be readily available in his driveway, he said.
Roberson said that while those are the hours, that does not mean he expects to have a client every hour on the hour. The later hours allow for clients who work all day to be able to come in for physical therapy after work, he explained.
Leslie O’Callaghan, a board member of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, said she presented 16 signatures to the Planning Commission of people opposing the rezoning request.
“If approved, this SLUP could result in the increased commercialization of our community and decrease home values,” she said. “This is not in line with the character of the neighborhood and more traffic could be dangerous.”
Kathy Wylie, a neighbor, said she supported approval of the SLUP because allowing residents to open a small business in their home will attract young people. “And those are the people interested in buying my house,” she said.
April Renner, who works in the real estate business, said she believed allowing home businesses in the neighborhood will only increase home values because younger home buyers are more and more working from home.
She added there are more than 700 homes in Dunwoody North and a petition of 16 signatures opposing the SLUP approval is hardly a clear representation of what people support.