PRAIRIE GROVE -- Residents wanting to open home-based businesses will be able to apply for a business permit administratively in the future, instead of requesting a conditional use permit from the planning commission.
The business must meet criteria to qualify as a home occupation, and the owner will be required to follow all the regulations in an ordinance adopted by the city council on July 19.
Larry Oelrich, city administrative assistant, said legislators, in passing a new state law, "decided" zoning should not be an issue for a home-based business. In essence, Oelrich said, lawmakers thought cities were making it too hard for entrepreneurs.
Oelrich last week said residents will apply for a business license for a home-based occupation at City Hall. The applicants will sign a document verifying that they plan to follow the requirements of the ordinance, Oelrich said.
The 2021 Zoning Amendment Ordinance, which takes effect in about 60 days, defines a home occupation as the use for a business that is conducted "entirely within an enclosed dwelling." Some examples listed include dressmaking, custom home furnishings, laundering, a professional office, room or board for not more than one person, tutoring or teaching, a beauty or barber shop.
A home occupation does not include uses such as a commercial kennel or stable, sales to people on the premises, commercial repair of automobiles or appliances.
A home business in a residential structure must meet all the conditions listed in the ordinance to qualify for a permit. For example, the business cannot involve the use of commercial vehicles, cannot use more than two rooms or have more than two customers at a time.
Other conditions are that the home business does not create a nuisance to surrounding neighbors, and it does not involve the display of goods or services or on-site sales of goods.
Regardless of any requirements, all home occupations have to comply with state and city fire, building and safety codes.
The ordinance also has restrictions for outside signs and prohibits lighted signs in residential areas.
Oelrich told council members that 90% of the time, the city does not have any problems with home-based occupations.
"Ten percent of the time, it is an issue," Oelrich said.
The council also adopted an ordinance to allow the planning commission to recommend variances for site layout and improvement requirements "only when" unique site conditions and characteristics create a hardship for the developer and city.
A developer or owner can request a variance for $50 and must file a written request justifying the variance. If the planning commission recommends the variance, it then goes to the city council for final approval. The council can approve it, deny it or send it back for further discussions.
If the planning commission denies the request for a variance, the applicant can appeal to the council.
In other action, the council approved the Neal Street minor subdivision and gave Chuck Wiley, city public works manager, permission to hire an engineering firm to start plans for improvements at the aquatic park.
It also approved a request to open a new bank account for federal covid money from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. The city does not know yet how much it will receive from the federal funds, but it is estimated it will be more than $1 million, according to Oelrich.