There is a lot of interest in home-based businesses lately. Times are certainly tough, and every bit of household income helps. I thought I would take a moment to explain the opportunities and potential limitations related to starting a home-based business in the City of Meridian.
Home occupations may be done out of any home in the City. However, to ensure that your home occupation does not disturb your neighbors or degrade the quality of your neighborhood, you are required to meet certain standards. Please note that you may have agreed to not have business in your home as part of the restrictions tied to your homeowners association. This is not a restriction imposed by the City of Meridian.
Our publically adopted codes allow home occupations, but they must be conducted entirely within the home, and your home must still look like a residence. This means you may not build an industrial or commercial looking building (including large storage sheds) just for the home occupation. This standard is intended to prohibit folks from setting up automotive shops within residential neighborhoods. Also, large unattractive buildings are often seen as lowering the value of adjoining homes and therefore the cause of complaint from your neighbors and homeowners association.
Home occupations must be conducted by people living in the home. You can have one employee that does not live in the home, but you cannot use your home as a headquarters where employees come to the site and are dispatched to other locations (such as contractors). Carrier deliveries (like UPS or FedEx) are limited to two outgoing pick-ups per day. This allows businesses such as Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and Tupperware, while prohibiting an intense manufacturing use. The intent is to make sure that your business does not disturb your neighbors by having a lot of traffic entering, parking and then leaving the neighborhood.
Many times people have home occupations where they provide a service, such as a music instructor or a hair and nail stylist. These activities are allowed, and limited retail sales related to the home occupation, e.g., guitar strings and sheet music or shampoo and conditioner, are permitted. Similarly, if your home occupation is a wood carving business, you may sell those items fabricated on the premises. For the most part other retail sales are not allowed so that the area does not become a retail center with increased traffic that disturbs the residents and changes the character of the neighborhood.
One of the most common home-based businesses is a small daycare out of the home. Daycares tend to draw more comments and concerns than other home based businesses. Because there is a fair amount of activity in the morning and afternoon, some neighbors complain about the traffic and noise. Other neighbors see the importance of having small daycare business within the neighborhood and are in strong favor of having the daycare close by. In setting standards for these daycares, we try to balance the needs of both groups while addressing the needs of the children and complying with the state requirements related to daycares.
For those home-based businesses that have customers and clients (including daycares) we limit the hours that such businesses operate. Our review process includes notifying the adjoining property owners. This allows those neighbors to express their concerns related to the request, such as past violations or particular characteristics of the neighborhood that would make it an inappropriate location for a home-based business.
If you are interested in starting a home-based business, the Planning Department staff is available to meet with you to explain the city’s process. Please contact the Planning Department at 884-5533 or check out the standards on-line at www.sterlingcodifiers.com look for Title 11 Chapter 4.