Council tables home-businesses rule changes

Members site countless flaws

By: Brian Shappell
   The Township Council on Tuesday delayed its vote on an ordinance dealing with home-based employment because some members said the measure was flawed.
   Council members Ted Van Hessen, Frank Gambatese and Carol Barrett pushed to table the vote on the ordinance, now scheduled for May 7.
   They were concerned that it allowed only one delivery per day, that it set a limit of one business per household and limited the amount of workspace in the house and prevents the use of a structure not attached to the home as a workplace. They also said the wording was confusing.
   "There are countless flaws in this ordinance," said Mr. Van Hessen.
   The ordinance would revise requirements for people working out of their homes. The new guidelines are being established so home-businesses do not alter the character of neighborhoods by bringing people to local homes for business. The ordinance will not affect telecommuters, people who perform paid administrative work from their home or people who already have existing home businesses, said Mayor Debra Johnson.
   Mayor Johnson said the council needs to vote on the new ordinance quickly because most home businesses are not in compliance with outdated township standards.
   The current ordinance, adopted several decades ago, was passed before technological improvement led to an increase in home businesses and telecommuters, according to council members.
   The only three occupations in compliance with the current ordinance are dressmaking, millinery and home cooking, according to the ordinance.
   The proposed ordinance defines home occupation as activities done within one’s home "as a business, profession or service for financial gain."
   Mr. Gambatese said passing the ordinance is a good idea in theory but cannot be done until changes are made. He said residents will benefit from the change.
   "What we are trying to do is something good," he said. "We’re trying to bring home-based occupations into the 21st century."
   Ms. Barrett said she was particularly troubled by the delivery limits.
   "Even if you don’t have a business, you can do home shopping and get a delivery from both Fed-Ex or UPS in the same day," she said.
   Mr. Van Hessen has said he is concerned the ordinance would have a negative impact on small home-business owners such as artists and landscapers and does not take into account that certain practices are more appropriate in one zone of the township as opposed to another. He said Tuesday that provisions prohibiting people from working out of a separate structure, basement or garage would be a severe detriment to residents.
   "The way this is written, George Segal couldn’t have become a world-renowned artist because he sculpted and created works from his chicken coups," Mr. Van Hessen said.