The city’s planning board is ironing out details to amend the code that oversees businesses operating out of homes.
The current code does not allow for many businesses, including Internet-based insurance companies, sales or many other fields that have become more common in the past decade, officials said.
City Attorney Tim Melenbrink presented the city’s planning and zoning board with several ordinances utilized by other cities that better reflect the “home occupation” uses commonly used today.
Melenbrink noted that the current ordinance is more geared to home businesses, including dress making and hair salons.
“It doesn’t go into Internet sales or any of that,” he said.
Melenbrink said the planning and zoning board has discussed similar changes in the past. He noted that residents have new ideas of businesses that they can operate out of their home every several years.
Community Development Director Joseph Graves said his office has received calls from residents who ask for licenses to operate the businesses. He explained that under the current law, to apply for a zoning use that is not allowed in a residential district, the homeowner must apply for a conditional use permit.
“We tell them it is $500 to go through the process and we never hear from them again,” said Graves.
He said it is cost-prohibitive and the owners of home businesses could purchase a city business license for $50.
Mayor Mike Livengood said he is concerned about the hours that home businesses would operate and the amount of traffic they would generate.
He added that the city code should include conditions to the hours and the amount of traffic.
Rost said allowing these type of businesses could be a conflict with “brick and mortar” businesses that have higher overhead costs.
Board member John Devine suggested the ordinance should allow for approved businesses owners to request a business license through the community development department’s website. If that request is denied, the planning board can hear an appeal and make a recommendation to aldermen.
“That sounds like the simplest process,” he said.
Melenbrink will utilize planning board input to develop a draft ordinance.