- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Raleigh City Council rejected an anti-abortion group’s request to move next door to an abortion clinic.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to deny A Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center’s request to conduct business out of a residence it owns next to Preferred Women’s Health Center, local news organizations reported. The two establishments are currently located less than a mile apart.

Under the city’s zoning code, only residential uses are allowed on the property, which Hand of Hope bought last year.

The group said it wanted to draw more clients and save money by rezoning the property to allow for commercial use.

The abortion clinic had argued that the move would have brought harassment and scrutiny to its patients and staff.

In its rejection of the request, the council cited a city rezoning code that allows only residential uses of the property.

In a statement, council member Kay Crowder said the property would better comply with the city’s Future Land Use Map if it were rezoned as a part of a larger commercial project.

“This coordinated approach would produce a more efficient use of the land,” Crowder said.

Tonya Baker Nelson, Hand of Hope’s executive director, said she was shocked by the council’s decision.

“From all our research, it looked like our request fit right into the UDO (Raleigh’s development guidelines) and we were following all the rules laid out for us, step by step,” Nelson said.

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