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126 registered responses


Would you support an ordinance change that would allow you or your neighbor to meet one-on-one in the home with business customers or clients?

Response Percent Response Count
Strongly Support 61.1% 77
Support 22.2% 28
Oppose 7.9% 10
Strongly Oppose 8.7% 11

Would you support an ordinance change that would allow you or your neighbor to provide haircutting, nail care, jewelry repair, or other similar type of personal service business from the home?

Response Percent Response Count
Strongly Support 54.8% 69
Support 21.4% 27
Oppose 12.7% 16
Strongly Oppose 11.1% 14

Please provide additional thoughts on why you support/do not support an ordinance change for home occupations.

Answered
88
Skipped
38
Name not shown in Ward 1
September 5, 2020, 10:19 PM
  • Would you support an ordinance change that would allow you or your neighbor to meet one-on-one in the home with business customers or clients?
    • Strongly Support
  • Would you support an ordinance change that would allow you or your neighbor to provide haircutting, nail care, jewelry repair, or other similar type of personal service business from the home?
    • Strongly Support
  • Please provide additional thoughts on why you support/do not support an ordinance change for home occupations.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this Ordinance. I believe both the current and proposed Ordinances place unreasonable limitations on small businesses, especially knowledge-based businesses. I support major revisions to modify the provisions of the proposed Ordinance that are unreasonable and not practically enforceable.
    Consider how differently a licensed “home occupation” is treated compared to an “unlicensed home day care”. Currently, a resident may care for up to 4 children in a home without state regulation or a Norfolk CUP. Presumably, this means that such a home could see traffic of up to 8 “visits” by non-resident vehicles on a single day (4 parents x 2 pickup/drop-off). It could also host up to 4 “clients” (i.e. children) simultaneously for extended periods. Furthermore, it is reasonable to expect that such a home would simultaneously have up to 2 visiting vehicles and 6 total clients (4 children/2 adults) present during pick up/drop off. I have no objection to this, and it seems other Norfolk residents have not objected to this longstanding allowable business use of a home. Additionally, it is notable that such a home is not limited to 25% of the area for business use nor is there a limitation on employees.
    Contrast this with the fact that an adult professional operating a licensed home occupation is prohibited from meeting with a single adult client. Even with the proposed revision, the limitation to a single client is over-regulation. For example, the proposed relaxation of restrictions would still prohibit an accountant or notary from meeting with a married couple or two parties that needed to execute a contract.
    These restrictions are both unreasonable and unenforceable for any knowledge-based, service business. It is virtually impossible to determine how much of the interior of a home is “occupied” by a knowledge-based business or distinguish between “clients” and other visitors by external observation.
    There is no reasonable justification to place limits on any home-based business that exceed those placed on those day care homes that do not require a CUP.
    I support revising the Ordinance as follows:
    1. Remove this restriction entirely:
    “The home occupation shall not occupy more than 25 percent of the floor area of the dwelling unit.”
    This provision is irrelevant as long all the business activity remains within the home
    2. Revise the employee restriction to read:
    “No more than two employees who are not members of the household residing within the dwelling unit may be present at any one time. ”
    This imposes a practical limit on the prolonged presence of non-resident vehicles to two.

    Please note that technically it is currently a zoning violation for a home-based business to employ anyone: “Employees who are not members of the household residing within the dwelling unit are prohibited.” This states that “Employees…are prohibited” not “The presence of employees in the home is prohibited” Again unenforceable and also unreasonable – at a minimum, this must be changed.
    3. Revise the client restriction to read:
    “The total number of persons, clients, and employees, who not members of the household residing within the dwelling unit is limited to a maximum of four at any one time.”
    This limits the number of non-residents to the number already deemed reasonable for home day care. It also allows flexibility, whereby a sole practitioner could meet with four clients, and a small team of an employer and assistant could meet with 3 clients, etc.

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Home Occupations

Defined by the Zoning Ordinance simply as “an occupation conducted in a dwelling unit,” they generally take the form of home offices for contractors, consultants, and other small one-person businesses. A long set of limitations exist for these businesses, prohibiting:

  • On-site sales, service, or consultation with customers or clients.
  • Employees who are not a resident of the dwelling.
  • The use of more than 25% of the area of the dwelling for business purposes.
  • The display of signs, exterior modifications, and exterior storage of equipment or materials related to the business.
  • Receipt or delivery of goods or equipment other than by mail or similar commercial parcel service.
  • Perceptible noise, odor, smoke, electrical interference or vibration.

Businesses including personal service operations (such as haircutting, nail care, jewelry repair, or shoe repair), tattooing, massage therapy, and auto repair or sales are also prohibited. Note that in-home day cares are permitted to operate from homes, with limitations, though they are regulated separately.

In many cases, the Zoning Ordinance permits business operators wishing to have employees or have customers/clients come to their home may request a conditional use permit (CUP) to do so. However, the CUP must be granted by City Council following two public hearings, a process that takes 2-3 months. Only a small handful of these CUPs have been issued.


Proposed Amendments

In the Spring of 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, a proposal was made to modify Norfolk’s home occupation regulations. Specifically, the proposal would make two changes:

  • Allowing operators to consult with one customer or client at a time from their dwelling without acquiring a CUP.
  • Allowing personal service operations, providing services such as haircutting or nail care, within a home occupation.

The following survey asks questions regarding this proposal and other potential modifications to the home occupation regulations. The results will be shared with the Norfolk City Planning Commission and City Council as they consider whether to make any modifications.


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