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View Full Version : Zoning and operating your business from home..


upsondown
02-27-2004, 10:45 AM
I made a recent post about radius of mileage that you guys work and the first response brought up a major question in my mind....since the first post stated that his office is his garage... I'm curious to know if those of you who do operate from your homes have any major zoning issues that you are dealt with because of it? I guess we are so close to EPA that none of the LCO's that I know of would even consider taking the risk - since we are so heavily regulated with hazmat storage - ie., fuel, oil, pesticides. I'm just wondering how some of you guys manage to pull it off.........of have you even thought about it? How do you pass your quarterly inspections?
Dave

specialtylc
02-27-2004, 09:17 PM
You have quarterly inspections.Whats that and by what agency. Our zoning here is, if they neighbors dont complain about traffic or smells we dont have to apply for home based business permit.

Albemarle Lawn
02-27-2004, 10:18 PM
Zoning is really obnoxious.

Here, as soon as apartments or homes are built in an area, existing businesses become "nonconforming"

Once that happens, they can not make any improvements to their building. Business is forced farther and farther to the fringe.

Business's that have been here 30 years are called "nonconforming use of a residential zone" even though there may not have been a home in sight when they started.

Many zoning ordinances specifically disallow "non-professional" services such as lawn or construction or excavation.

But if a Lowe's, Target, or Wal-Mart wants to build on farmland, no problem, they just "re-zone"

Basically, zoning laws make it very expensive to exist because they force lawn operators to the fringe of the city, it still costs a fortune esp if you are required to be in Light Industrial or M1 zoning. Customers still choose the scrub who does a $200 job for $75.

It's really bad, the people who put on pretty clothes and drive 4 cylinder cars to work will always look down on the service industry, but will want you there in 15 minutes for $20 when they need you.

All I can say is get involved, tell your city council what is on your mind, be part of the process instead of just a victim.

Its so bad here that on major thoroughfare streets that have churches and apartment buildings and stores, lawn care and contractor's yards are not allowed. Albemarle County administrators will allow a 50 unit nasty apartment complex but not a business that only employs 5 people and generates virtually no traffic.

Fight them every chance you get and point out how little common sense they are exhibiting.

Get a business address (like at a relative's property) for your "official" address, and just "bring a truck home" like the guy who works for the electric company does, etc.

KB

lawnman_scott
02-27-2004, 10:26 PM
Thats rediculous, but its our fault. Most people will cry about gay marraiges, while the city council or county commission passes these laws. And most probably dont evan know who they are.

upsondown
02-28-2004, 06:02 AM
Our quarterly inspectons are fire and safety inspections - as well as EPA inspections for herbicides. Then once every 6 months we have a conformity report that has to be filed... Oh yeah - we also have a quarterly recycling report that is required now too, as well as oil disposal reports. After all that - we get time to go out and make money..

upsondown
02-28-2004, 06:05 AM
oh yeah - and a water backflow prevention report. almost forgot that one.

KenH
02-28-2004, 07:15 AM
I live on commercial prop......

upsondown
02-28-2004, 07:23 AM
you can reside on commercial property? geesh - that would never fly here.

upsondown
02-28-2004, 07:26 AM
Hey Albemarle..... where at do you live - In the county - or in city limits of c'vlle? Just curious.
Dave

bobbygedd
02-28-2004, 07:51 AM
everybody here "runs thier business" from thier home. there is a tiny patch of woods behind my yard, i don't own it. some moron, came in the middle of the night, and dumped a truckload of debris in the woods. the owner saw it, saw my trucks, put 2 and 2 together, and assumed it was me. he called the zoning board, the building inspecter came over as i was loading the trailer one morning. "is this your house?" yup i said. "is this your business?" yup, i said. "you know, you're not allowed to run a business from your home, it's against city ordinence?" i'm not running a business, from my home, i explained. he said, " if you don't get your stuff out of here within 30 days, you will start recieving fines." you are tresspassing, i told him, get off of my property.he said, "how long you been in business?" two days, i told him. got a lawyer, we won. it was all a matter of interpretation. what does it mean to run a business from your home? are there any customers, at your home? nope. do i sell things from my home? nope. an i storing merchandise at my home? nope. my truck, my trailer, and my trimmers, etc, are my TOOLS. is it against city ordinence to bring your TOOLS home from work? nope. i saw my neighbor bring home his laptop, that's how he does his work, and i saw the other guy, bring a briefcase home, these are thier tools. u make me move mine, you will make every single person in this town, who brings home a laptop, briefcase, toolbox, or pencil for that matter, start paying fines. i won, and my stuff remains in my garage

TwoBrothersLC
02-28-2004, 08:17 AM
bobbygedd...I like your view on this one. What makes what we do any different than what the guy next door does. Only difference is that our stuff is sometimes more visible when going in and out. I am not allowed to park my truck in my driveway because of the duel tires...yet the guy down the street has 2 in his. I think it's all in who you know.

KenH
02-28-2004, 08:46 AM
Originally posted by upsondown
you can reside on commercial property? geesh - that would never fly here.

My house was built in 1922. The commercial property is a pre-existing condition, and is considered a non conforming use.

upsondown
02-28-2004, 08:55 AM
I guess because of our close proximity to Washington,DC that we get to enjoy these zoning regulations so stringently. Even if our residential properties are zoned R2 - meaning home businesses are allowed - it still comes under great scrutiny in the application process and if there's any equipment that would not be completely garaged at night - including company vehicles - it's an automatic denial until such time as you can provide "adequate" housing for the equipment. I have known a number of people who complied in every way with the regulations and after the permits were issued - they still had a residual thing where they would call Ma Bell and make sure that their telephones were listed in a company name and not their individual ones. Some were found in violation of that and they in turn revoked their permit.

rtyus
02-28-2004, 08:59 AM
That's why I live out in the country. There's one neighbor to the right and behind me that has planted pine trees on his property between his house and mine so by the end of the summer I won't even be able to see his house. Then there's a real sweet elderly widow across the road. The next house is a half mile away. No zoning problems here.

Mdirrigation
02-28-2004, 09:11 AM
I had 2 ford f 350 dumps . Zoning in this area prohibits trucks over 3/4 ton on residential property . But they never defined 3/4 ton as payload or the total weight of the truck. I was given a citation and went to court and proved to the judge that every pick up truck from a toyota up to a full size ford ,chevy and dodge weighed over 1500 lbs. Since this made parking any pickup on any residential property I won. Two years later they changed the law to read any truck with a gross vehicle weight of 10000 lbs or more and I was busted again. I applied for a building permit in the company name for a fence, permits are good for 3 years. I took 3 years to finish the fence and call for the final . After the permit ran out they were back. ( the inspector wants to get me real bad) I found a right to farm law on the third go around .
Miss zoning has pictures of me doing landscaping and states that we are not farming. I tell the judge nowhere in the regulations does it limit my activities off my property , just on my property all my trucks and equipment are used for maintenance of my "farm" while on my property . Well what do you grow ? I grow sod and sell topsoil. I have recipts to prove it. and I hand the judge 2 reciepts. Is this all the sod and topsoil you sold last year? Yes sir it is, no where in the regulations is it stated that I have to be good at farming. They haventbothered me again.

impactlandscaping
02-28-2004, 09:21 AM
Originally posted by Mdirrigation
I had 2 ford f 350 dumps . Zoning in this area prohibits trucks over 3/4 ton on residential property . But they never defined 3/4 ton as payload or the total weight of the truck. I was given a citation and went to court and proved to the judge that every pick up truck from a toyota up to a full size ford ,chevy and dodge weighed over 1500 lbs. Since this made parking any pickup on any residential property I won. Two years later they changed the law to read any truck with a gross vehicle weight of 10000 lbs or more and I was busted again. I applied for a building permit in the company name for a fence, permits are good for 3 years. I took 3 years to finish the fence and call for the final . After the permit ran out they were back. ( the inspector wants to get me real bad) I found a right to farm law on the third go around .
Miss zoning has pictures of me doing landscaping and states that we are not farming. I tell the judge nowhere in the regulations does it limit my activities off my property , just on my property all my trucks and equipment are used for maintenance of my "farm" while on my property . Well what do you grow ? I grow sod and sell topsoil. I have recipts to prove it. and I hand the judge 2 reciepts. Is this all the sod and topsoil you sold last year? Yes sir it is, no where in the regulations is it stated that I have to be good at farming. They haventbothered me again.


That is the way to play the system!!Good for you!![B]

nelbuts
02-28-2004, 09:39 AM
I like what all of you are saying. As Bobby knows I am running for County Commissioner down here in FL. Government has a habit of picking on the little guy, the one with the least amount of money to fight. The problem I see with our business is that we do not stick together. When there is an organization it seems as though it is formed just to charge enough dues to pay the officers salary. There is never any legislative action on behalf of the members and non members. As a result, you and I are driven from our homes.

Bobby and impact had it right by fighting it with controlled emotions. Look for the loop holes and then take advantage of them. Here is one thing in our favor. We usually service the influential people of our communities. Talk to them, make contacts and get involved politically. Take your down time and go to city council meetings, county commission meetings etc. Join your local republican and democrat clubs. They are mostly jerks only concerned with their own standing in the community but you can use them from time to time. Join the Elks, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Educate these people in just how much money our industry generates. You will see a change in attitude after a while. However, you also have to recruit other companies. Make friends with them, help them out when you can, even the scrubs. It is a long process but is worth the effort in the long run. Another thing, I know you like to listen to your tunes but listen to your local AM talk radio stations. When there is a topic that concerns any small business call in and make your position known.

mtdman
02-29-2004, 10:37 AM
This is why I don't keep my stuff at home.

Albemarle Lawn
06-11-2004, 10:50 PM
Surely they have heard about the guy in Granby, Colorado that bulldozed town hall and 9 other buildings, and was going to go doze the home of all town council members when then the dozer got stuck.

He welded himself inside the armored cab, and had fortified hydraulic lines, radiator, etc.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/state/article/0%2C1299%2CDRMN_21_2939053%2C00.html

:angry: :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :realmad:

LIBERTY LAWNCARE 2
06-12-2004, 05:00 AM
Our town is in the process of changing zoning laws to make landscaper's lives hell. Fortunately, our neighbor who is on the committee (and we plow him out for free) called us & told us to get down to Town Hall now & get our application in because then we would be grandfathered in under the old zoning.

We only have one PITA neighbor to worry about - every one else on our road LOVES us.

brucec32
06-13-2004, 03:09 AM
No expert here, and I've lately lived in ag/res zoning where it wasn't a real problem. I purchased my last two homes specifically to make sure I have no problems, either legal or neighbor. But the best thing to do is contact your local county, and if you're in city limits, city zoning dept and ask questions. Just be sure you're talking to a knowledgeable person, not a clerk who is just parroting what she was told to say. They will often just say "no" to whatever you're asking, assuming you're talking about a business with lots of gear and employees when you might just be one guy with a truck and mowers.

It varies from place to place, but I will point out that parking a trailer with mowers on it in an enclosed garage is seen differently than things like parking a rig in the driveway, parking a large truck in excess of 1 ton capacity, having employees show up and park cars there, and applying pesticides, which have seperate requirements for rinsing and storage facilities.

The zoning rules here specifically allow parking in a garage, but NOT in a carport, for example. That said, some people have 18 wheelers, dump trucks, cement trucks, metal butler buildings, and very commercial setups on their properties. But, also, those tend to be on the junkier roads and I bet a complaint from a neighbor would get action. But it seems to be live and let live here.

Owning 2 acres in the country and owning a home on 1/5th acre in a subdivision is also an example of two very different situations. The closer you are to folks, the more they are going to be concerned about your business affecting their neighborhood and their property values, and the more likely the city/county will receive complaints and act on your situation.

Bobbygedd makes an excellent legal argument. But then based on his posts here, he gets a lot of practice arguing with folks.

brucec32
06-13-2004, 03:13 AM
Originally posted by Mdirrigation
I had 2 ford f 350 dumps . Zoning in this area prohibits trucks over 3/4 ton on residential property . But they never defined 3/4 ton as payload or the total weight of the truck. I was given a citation and went to court and proved to the judge that every pick up truck from a toyota up to a full size ford ,chevy and dodge weighed over 1500 lbs. Since this made parking any pickup on any residential property I won. Two years later they changed the law to read any truck with a gross vehicle weight of 10000 lbs or more and I was busted again. I applied for a building permit in the company name for a fence, permits are good for 3 years. I took 3 years to finish the fence and call for the final . After the permit ran out they were back. ( the inspector wants to get me real bad) I found a right to farm law on the third go around .
Miss zoning has pictures of me doing landscaping and states that we are not farming. I tell the judge nowhere in the regulations does it limit my activities off my property , just on my property all my trucks and equipment are used for maintenance of my "farm" while on my property . Well what do you grow ? I grow sod and sell topsoil. I have recipts to prove it. and I hand the judge 2 reciepts. Is this all the sod and topsoil you sold last year? Yes sir it is, no where in the regulations is it stated that I have to be good at farming. They haventbothered me again.

Curious what your neighbors think of this? There is a dually that is permanently parked next door and I couldn't care less. But my area is properly zoned and sized for that stuff. But I know I would have a problem if I was in a truely residential neighborhood and someone started running a business next door, having shady employees coming and going, etc. We have to be good neighbors as well as businessmen.