Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Class Warfare in the Zoning Bylaws

I've become very familiar with sections 5.012 and 5.013 of the Amherst Zoning Bylaws-- they're the sections that say whether or not you're allowed to use part of your home as a business.

Section 5.012 says that if you're upper-class (doctor, dentist, optician, member of the clergy, lawyer, architect, engineer, etc) you can, as long as you follow three rules.

Section 5.013 says that if you're working-class (a resident artist, craftsperson, beautician, dressmaker, milliner, photographer, cabinetmaker, skate sharpener, radio repair technician, etc-- yes, 'skate sharpener', I copied that list directly from the bylaws), you need to apply for a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. And as long as you follow the eight rules in the zoning article, and go through the special permit process (which takes three months and costs $175), you can go about your business.

Does that seem unfair to anybody besides me?

Here's my suggested rewrite of that section of the zoning bylaws, lifted from the Keene, New Hampshire city code:
(a) Home occupations or home vocational activity may be permitted in all zoning districts provided that:
(1) It does not result in alteration of the residential appearance of the dwelling unit or the lot on which it is located.
(2) It does not result in the production of any offensive noise, vibration, light, odor, dust, smoke, or other pollution external to the property.
(3) The use will not generate vehicular or pedestrian traffic of a quantity or quality as to be injurious, offensive, or otherwise detrimental to the neighborhood. Vehicular traffic of more than ten vehicles per day shall be considered prima facie evidence of traffic which is detrimental to the neighborhood.
(4) It is not identified by any externally visible sign or externally visible on-premises advertising of any kind or any off-premises advertising which identifies the location of the property.
(5) It does not result in the use of an area equal to more than ten percent of the total of gross floor area of the dwelling unit up to a maximum of 300 square feet, which may be in the dwelling or an accessory building.
(6) There shall be no more than one employee of the home occupation who is not a resident of the dwelling unit.
(7) All activity associated with producing, storing, or selling the goods or services of the home occupation must be performed in the dwelling or an accessory building.
(8) Retail sales as a primary home occupation that attracts customers to the residence to purchase articles/goods is not permitted. Retail sales that are accessory to a home occupation, such as a beauty salon selling hair care products, is permitted. Retail sales where the customers do not visit the residence is permitted, such as sales over the Internet and the goods are shipped either from the residence or another location.
(b) The purpose of this section is to permit home occupations as long as such activity does not have a detrimental effect on the residential character of the neighborhood.

That seems fair-- do business from your home, just don't bother your neighbors, whether you're a doctor or a radio repair technician...


Paul G. Silva said...



Here here!

Mary E.Carey said...

I'm very curious about what you're selling -- have you revealed that to us? As for the two out of three things about you that are true, I'd say you never sang in the choir, except that would be the obvious answer, so I bet you never lived in Alaska.

Gavin Andresen said...

I actually haven't sold anything on eBay in over two years (I've sold some old routers I didn't need any more, a couple of antique toy cars that we found in the attic of our old house, etc). I mostly buy stuff, lately it's been mostly stuff for my model train hobby.

And as for my big fat lie on my profile: I've never broken any bones, so "I broke both my legs in a skiing accident" is the lie.