City staff members are suggesting that a proposal for home business license requirements closely mirror those of the current city business license.
In the most recent draft of the “home occupation” code presented Monday night to the city’s planning and zoning board, Melenbrink included a $50 fee every two years.
However, Community Development Director Joseph Graves noted that the current city code for “brick and mortar” businesses requires a $50 licensing fee for the first year.
The fee then is reduced to $30 each year if the business moves or changes ownership.
“Traditionally they have to renew every year,” said Graves. “If they are running it out of a home there is lower overhead — they should have to pay each year.”
“I feel it is important that they play on the same level playing field,” he added.
The current city code does not allow for home businesses, including Internet-based insurance companies, sales or many other fields that have become more common in the past decade.
However, under the current code it is cost-prohibitive for small businesses to even apply to get a permit.
To apply for a zoning use that is not allowed in a residential district, the homeowner must apply for a conditional use permit.
To obtain a conditional use permit, the fee is $500.
Zoning board members agreed that the permit request should be heard by that board and then the board of aldermen.
The planning board will make a recommendation to approve or reject the request to the board of aldermen, under the proposal.
Under the newest draft of the home occupation ordinance, owners of home businesses will be able to purchase a city business license for $50.
The permit will be renewed annually if the owner meets all conditions and pays the $30 renewal fee. Those fees mirror the cost for other businesses to obtain a license.
The proposed ordinance would include uses such as tutoring, artists, mailings, telephone answering services and Internet-based occupations.
Some uses that are prohibited are car repairs, sales and painting; construction material and equipment storage, retail and wholesale sales and eating and drinking establishments.
Melenbrink has 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.
Other conditions in the home occupation code include:
• The permit will be issued only to those living in the home where the business is operated and the permit is not transferable;
• The business will be conducted within the home or garage, and cannot occupy more than 20 percent of the floor area of the home;
• The permit applicant must send a certified letter to property owners within 100 feet of the property;
• There is no alteration of the exterior of the home, nor advertising permitted;
• There can be no offensive noise, lights, electrical interference, odors, smoke nor heat coming from the residence;
• Traffic generated from the business cannot exceed normal traffic at a home;
• The occupation will not require additional off-street parking; and
• The use of gases, chemicals, commercial or industrial mechanical and electrical equipment is prohibited.