Matthieu v. Miller (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-16-0765, 11 pp.) (Wanda G. Bryant, J.) Appealed from Rockingham County Superior Court. (John O. Craig III, J.) N.C. App. Unpub. Full-text opinion.
Holding: The restrictive covenants in the parties’ neighborhood prohibited commercial activity. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed defendants to do their business’s clerical work inside their home.
We affirm the trial court’s injunction.
The injunction said that defendants “are specifically not enjoined from listing the street address of the lot as the principal business address of [their business,] J&S, and they are hereby allowed to conduct telephone calls, internet usage, invoicing or other clerical activities related to the business, within the confines of the residence on the Lot.”
However, defendants were permanently enjoined from “conducting business, trade, or commercial activity on the [defendants’] Lot and/or from using the [defendants’] Lot for anything other than residential single-family dwelling purposes.” Further, defendants were specifically enjoined from engaging in certain activities on Lot 16: meeting with employees or subcontractors of J & S or any other business/sole proprietorship owned by defendants for business purposes; allowing employees or subcontractors of J & S or any other business/sole proprietorship owned by defendants to park their vehicles; parking more than one van or other commercial vehicle; storing commercial equipment or inventory for J & S or any other business/sole proprietorship owned by defendants except for tools kept in the allowed van or other commercial vehicle; and offering commercial vehicles, equipment, or inventory for sale.
The neighborhood’s restrictive covenants intended to limit the use of the property for residential purposes only and the trial court’s order, permanently enjoining defendants from conducting business, trade, or commercial activity on their lot, upholds that purpose. The activities upon which plaintiffs predicate their appeal — performing other clerical activities incidentally related to defendants’ electrical business, i.e. listing the street address of Lot 16 as a business address, making telephone calls, using the internet, and invoicing — are all activities that take place within the confines of defendants’ residence and do not destroy the residential character of the property or defeat purpose of the restrictive covenants.
The trial court’s order served the purpose of eliminating commercial activity from defendants’ residence without policing defendants’ telephone calls and other clerical activities incidental to defendants’ business but conducted within the confines of their home. Further, the order did not threaten the residential character of the subdivision.