The Webster Groves City Council has extended a June 4 public hearing to its next meeting on June 18. The public hearing concerns possible changes to the city code for the operation of home-based businesses.
Mara Perry, director of planning and development, said some residents don’t understand that a license is required to operate a business from home.
“We are saying all home occupations must have a valid occupancy permit for the home and must obtain a business license,” she said.
Under the proposed changes, the definition of a home occupation is being simplified to mean any occupation, business, profession or commercial activity carried on by a member or members of a household residing on the premises. The occupation must be incidental and subordinate to the use of any residence.
This does not include people who work from home but have an office location where the business is based.
Proposed code changes address number of employees, hours of operation, signage, deliveries and parking requirements.
Perry said exceptions to these limits could be granted through a conditional use permit process.
Banned home businesses would include ammunition or firearms sales, auto repair and services, dance academies, construction or landscape companies (other than home offices), medical marijuana dispensaries, medical offices, restaurants, tattoo parlors, funeral homes and veterinary clinics.
Linda Helton does sewing and makes handcrafted items out of her home on Elm Valley Court. She supports the proposed changes to the home business law, saying that under the new guidelines “our neighborhoods would see little to no negative impact.”
She said the changes would be a “win-win” solution for home-based occupations that would provide the city with much-needed tax revenue and license fees.
Helton said she is currently not offered the same considerations as other home businesses — such as child care or music lessons — because people can’t come to her home to drop off or pick up items.
“Most inventory-based home occupation such as jewelry, cosmetics, Pampered Chef, etc., are operated by women, and the current code appears to place a disadvantage to women and their home-based businesses,” Helton said.
Vickie Jarnagin said she appreciated home-based business people in her neighborhood.
“I believe that a neighborhood is more of a community when it is not deserted during typical work hours,” she said. “I would not want any restrictions that would force these neighbors who run home-based businesses out of the community.”
Rudy Beuc, whose family has operated an architectural business out of a home on West Glendale Road since 1968, questioned the city’s need for additional home business requirements.
Perry said parking problems could arise at home-based businesses, particularly on streets where parking is allowed only on one side.
Perry said that about a third of complaints the city gets on home-based occupations are from neighbors who complain about cars, or commercial vehicles, parked on their street. She said excessive customer/employee parking could lead to problems with emergency vehicles being able to get down streets.
Council Member Pam Bliss praised the proposed changes as “having flexibility without being too restrictive.”
Council Member Bud Bellomo said more discussion was needed on the matter.
“This is a great start, but we need to spend time to do this right,” he said.