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Zoning: Regulating Traffic

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In part one of this two-part look at zoning regulations, I suggested simple, reasonable language that could be used to regulate home-based businesses.

As I said before, these regulations don't have to be dripping with legalese. My belief is that those setting up a home-based business need to understand the rules and those that live next door need to know they are protected. It's that simple.

Having covered all these criteria--appearance, noise, etc.--there is one more issue that must be addressed regarding home-based businesses: traffic.

There are three kinds of traffic that are business related: customer, employee and commercial delivery. The vast majority of home-based businesses have no traffic impact on their neighborhood. I suggest the following wording for those "no traffic" businesses:

Home occupations with no discernible traffic are allowed without registration or permitting. A "no traffic" home occupation is defined as one that complies with the general home occupation standards and the following conditions:

A. Premises on local roadway -- no more than five business-related vehicle visits per week.

B. Premises on collector roadway -- no more than two business-related vehicle visits per day, nor more than 10 visits per week, whichever is greater.

C. Premises on arterial roadway -- no restrictions on number of business-related vehicle visits.

Note: Delivery vehicles are only permitted by commercial services that customarily make residential deliveries. These deliveries are not counted as business visits.

Number of employees. There is no restriction on the number of employees as long as the traffic restrictions above are met.

There are circumstances where a higher level of traffic may be tolerable. For those instances, the following wording is suggested.

Minor Traffic. Home occupations with minor traffic may be required to register with the planning and zoning office or homeowners association. A minor traffic home occupation is one that complies with the general home occupation standards and the following conditions:

A. Premises on local roadway -- no more than two business-related vehicle visits per day nor more than 10 visits per week, whichever is greater.

B. Premises located on collector roadway -- no more than five business-related vehicle visits per day or no more than 20 per week, whichever is greater.

C. Premises located on arterial roadway -- no business-related vehicle visits restrictions.

Note: Delivery vehicles are only permitted by commercial services that customarily make residential deliveries. These deliveries are not counted as business visits.

Employees. There is no restriction on the number of employees as long as the traffic restrictions above are met.

Major Traffic. Home occupations that exceed any of the definitions of a minor traffic business may still be permitted, but must submit a variance application to the governing authority for consideration. Home occupation owners must comply with the general home occupation standards and other standards laid out in the approved variance.

The idea is to use common sense. Remember that the quality of life is what we are trying to preserve. Work for a fair solution in writing your ordinance or covenant. Always ask the question, "Could this impact the quality of life of my neighbor?" If so, write the clause carefully so that it can be enforced if a complaint arises.

[Steve Lang is the founder of the Mount Evans Home Based Business Association in Evergreen, Colo. He has founded and built three home-based businesses, two of which grew out of his home. Steve presently operates a no-traffic, man- and earth-friendly, home-based business and can be reached at elkbugle@aol.com.]

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