A city zoning board meeting is where perspective often gets transformed, where people squabble passionately over deep-fried turkeys, fire escapes and sandwich shops.
"We need the patience of Job somedays," says Zoning Board Chairman Benjamin A. Neil.
It is here that Rosia Morgan, 69, and Timothy McGinnis, 29, found themselves yesterday, fighting for snowballs in the middle of a heat wave.
Both went to the zoning board looking for justice, in the form of vindication for their proposed snowball-cone businesses run from their respective homes. Both would leave empty-handed.
Morgan, a retiree who worked at Sparrows Point shipyard for 20 years, was running her stand as something to do.
McGinnis, an employee of Shasta Beverages, thought that selling snowballs would be a good way to earn money for vacations.
Both found that achieving those ends legally through home snowball stands is an impossibility.
According to Donald Small, superintendent of zoning administration and enforcement, snowball stands constitute an outlawed use of residential space.
As innocent as such businesses may seem, Small said snowball stands tend to attract flies, indirectly cause excessive debris, and impede pedestrians.
At the same time, Small also said that the policy is rarely enforced in an active manner. Zoning will come looking for a neighborhood snowball stand only when a complaint comes in, something he attributes to necessity.
"It's not that we're lenient, but because we have very limited staff," Small said. "It's not like we're going to hunt for it."
McGinnis began his journey in January, when his father told him that his place in Canton would be perfect for selling snowballs.
Living near a bank, T-shirt shop and grocery store, McGinnis was surprised to learn that he lived in a residential district, not a commercial district.
"Everything on that street is a business," McGinnis said. "I would be on the side that all the businesses are on."
When asked why he didn't run an illegal snowball stand like the many others, McGinnis said, "I didn't want to take the chance; I am a law-abiding citizen."
Morgan said she spent nearly $2,000 to start her snowball stand in the neighborhood of O'Donnell Heights, which she ran for two and a half months before complaints brought her to the attention of the zoning board late last summer.
She said that the snowball stand performs an important function in her community, as a place where people can talk to her about their problems and "get a snowball when it's hot."
Neil, the board chairman, said he was sympathetic, but that there was little he could do.
"Lots of folks like to do that," Neil said. "We try to be user-friendly, but that doesn't mean it's proper, permitted or legal."
Pub Date: 7/16/97