Southwick plans for
more home business
By HOPE E. TREMBLAY
SOUTHWICK – The Planning Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall regarding changes to the customary home occupations bylaw.
The board wants to completely delete the current wording and replace it with a version the board has spent a year discussing.
Town Planner Marcus Phelps said the board decided to rewrite the article because of the number of customary home occupations that came before them in recent years.
“We approve about 30 a year,” said Phelps.
Nearly all of the requests were very common uses without any special considerations. Because of this, Phelps said they wanted to make typical customary home occupations a right for residents.
“There seems to be more people wanting to work from home,” said Phelps, who said tough economic times are also giving people the incentive to start small businesses.
“Starting a business from home is a good way to try it out,” he added.
The new bylaw defines home occupation as a vocation, trade, small business, craft, art or profession that can be conducted within a dwelling (permanent) or accessory building. It states that “A Home Occupation as defined in § 185–4 is considered an Accessory Use to a residential property in all Zones and Districts. Any Home Occupation shall be conducted in a manner that is not detrimental to the neighborhood nor adversely affects the health and property of abutters.”
It prohibits home occupations for a clinic or hospital, on site food sales or service, retail or wholesale shop or store, animal hospital or kennel, bed and breakfast, motor vehicle repair or painting facility, and welding or machine shop.
Phelps said one of the provisions for a home occupation as of right is that the business can have one vehicle and one trailer outside with signage, which is a change from the current language.
“Now, you’re not supposed to have anything outside the home,” said Phelps, adding that the current $25 fee for a customary home occupation is eliminated with the proposed bylaw.
Phelps said the new language also allows for two non-family employees.
Other conditions of the home occupation as of right include:
Does not exhibit any exterior indication of its presence nor alter the residential appearance except for signage in compliance with § 185–29;
Is conducted solely within a dwelling (permanent) or accessory building and solely by the person(s) occupying the dwelling as a primary residence and, in addition to the resident(s) of the premises, by not more than two employees;
Is clearly incidental and subordinate to the use of the premises for residential purposes and does not produce vehicle traffic greater than that associated with a residential use;
Does not create a health or safety hazard nor produce offensive noise, vibration, smoke, dust, odors, heat, lighting, and no electrical interference or environmental pollution;
Does not utilize exterior storage of material or equipment except for one vehicle not to exceed 16,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and one trailer not to exceed 7,000 GVWR for business use;
Provides adequate parking for additional vehicles associated with the Home Occupation; and Is registered as a business with the Town Clerk.
The public is encouraged to attend the March 27 meeting to weigh-in on the proposed changes. The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Land Use Hearing Room.
Hope E. Tremblay can be reached at [email protected]