Possible revisions to what is acceptable as a home-based business in the town of Halifax is back on the table.
The definition of home occupation in the R-1 residential zoning district of the town of Halifax zoning ordinance has been part of Halifax Town Council and Halifax Planning Commission members’ discussions ever since LuLaRoe retailer Erin Shaughnessy was denied her special use permit in June.
During a special joint meeting between Halifax Town Council and Halifax Planning Commission on Wednesday, it was decided the business development committee, comprised of Mike Trent and Gail Bosiger, would review other ordinances and construct a draft to be reviewed by council at its Oct. 8 meeting.
Council also voted unanimously to set a joint meeting with the Halifax Planning Commission and public hearing on the revisions for Oct. 23. Council members Bill Covington and Bill Confroy were absent from the meeting as well as commission members Neville Kidd and Sylvia Lovelace.
“I think our ordinance is out of touch with the new economy,” said Trent.
He explained as long as a business is respecting the dignity of a residential area and that others wouldn’t be able to tell it’s a business operated there, the business should be allowed.
He also suggested using the town of South Boston’s ordinance as a starting point.
The town of South Boston’s ordinance says that a home-based business must be conducted entirely within the interior residential structure or within an accessory structure.
It also states there should be no outside storage of goods, products, equipment or other materials, and the inside storage of goods or products should not exceed 5% of the finished floor area.
These are just two of 12 stipulations within the town of South Boston’s ordinance for home-based businesses.
Whereas the town of Halifax’s current ordinance does not allow for any stock to be kept or commodities sold.
Trent also pointed out he did not want to revise the ordinance simply for one business, but in a way he felt would be acceptable to businesses in the future.
Jack Dunavant said they should embrace change to the ordinance as long as they “keep the ambiance in tact.”
He also said he favored the town of Front Royal’s ordinance.
After Shaughnessy’s permit was denied in June, Halifax Town Council requested the town of Halifax Planning Commission study the current home occupation definition and compare it to other localities.
In addition to Front Royal and South Boston’s ordinance, members of council and the commission also reviewed ordinances from Campbell County, Chesterfield County, Fredericksburg, Leesburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Roanoke and Smithfield.
When the commission met on Aug. 28, chairman Reiter recommended to council no amendments or modifications be made to the current definition of home occupation in a R-1 residential zone. Commissioner Paul Butler seconded the motion that went on to pass unanimously.
Commissioners Lovelace and Kathy Bane were absent from that August meeting.
During council’s Sept. 10 meeting, several members of the public, including neighbors, family members, friends and clients of Shaughnessy, spoke on her behalf asking council to reconsider her special use permit.
Shaughnessy also asked council to reconsider the permit so she could provide and contribute to her family.
At the conclusion of that meeting, Dunavant requested council once again review the current ordinance, samples of others and develop any modifications to the current ordinance.
Confroy also asked council to review existing home-based businesses in the R-1 residential zone, which are active, holding current business licenses.
Businesses within the R-1 residential zone in Halifax that have been issued special use permits and hold business licenses are Anna Knapp’s Daycare, Sparkle Wash Systems and Painting by Ricky Loftis, Lakeside Counseling Services by Beth Gillis, R. A. Whitlow Painting and Flooring Sanding by Richard Whitlow, Duffey Vinyl and Tees by Ronnie Duffey and Paladin Mosquito Control by Chris Cole.
As council reviews the current ordinance, some wonder where do they draw the line.
Commissioner Butler asked council, “If everybody in a residential area could have a business in their home, why would you need a city?”
Trent replied, “We already have it set up where every home can have a business in it. We just have rules of what is a home business.”
He also argued that making changes to the ordinance could make the neighborhoods more attractive to the younger generation.
Meanwhile, Mayor Dexter Gilliam cautioned council on allowing retail businesses in a residential area.
“Once we open the door to a pure retail without some strong covenants on it, we open the door to a lot of things down the road that we may be sorry for,” said Gilliam.
In other action Wednesday evening, council approved a special use permit for James Edmunds to add a studio apartment to the retail end of the building at 60 S. Main Street in Halifax, which is in a C-1 commercial zoning district.
This action came following a recommendation from the commission and a public hearing in which no one spoke other than Edmunds, who said he was available to answer any questions members of council or commission may have.
Council also approved a resolution commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Banister River Garden Club and its contributions to beautification efforts in the town of Halifax.