Permits for home businesses

Monday, August 23, 2004

If you have a question, e-mail or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"

Q. Is it true that the Cape Girardeau City Council has in the past couple of years approved home-based businesses in residential areas? I was told the city stopped giving these permits three years ago or longer, but I know people who got them since then. How does the city make a decision to approve or deny a home-based business in a residential area?

A. According to the Division of Planning Services and the Division of Inspection Services, there has been no change in how home-occupation licenses are evaluated.

"What has changed in recent years," said Tracey Glenn, city information officer, "is the number of requests received for home-occupation licenses which require special-use permits."

Tracey, with the help of customer service manager Jo Cossairt, did an admirable job explaining the process to me. But it's lengthy. So let me summarize.

There are certain basic business activities that can be conducted from home, but they are limited and require a home-occupation license. Approval of such licenses by the city inspector doesn't require city council action.

If the application doesn't qualify for a home-occupation license, however, the resident may submit a request for a special-use permit. The Planning and Zoning Commission then reviews this request and makes a recommendation to the city council, which is required to hold a public hearing before granting or denying the permit.

What are some of the guidelines regarding a home-occupation license?

According to the city, "The business activities must be conducted by a member of the family residing on the premises, provided that no person not a resident on the premises is employed, no stock in trade is kept, or commodities sold, no internal or external alterations or special construction of the premises are involved, no equipment shall be used which creates offensive noise, vibration, sound, smoke, dust, odors, heat, glare, X-ray or electrical disturbance to radio or television instrument, no generation of substantial volumes of vehicular or pedestrian traffic or parking demand is created ... ."

And the list goes on.

Requests for special-use permits are handled on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the effects on neighboring property owners, as well as traffic impacts, fire safety and public utilities.

Q: Are you going to have the high school football and basketball schedules on your Web site again this year?

A: Southeast Missourian sports editor Toby Carrig indicated that the schedules will be available online. His staff is also working on being able to post football game statistics. A decision about basketball statistics has yet to be made.

Q: Who painted the mural at Southeast Missouri Hospital? It seems to be a progression of medicine throughout the centuries. It is beautiful.

A: St. Louis artist John Hunn created the "History of Medicine Mural." Dedicated in 1996, it is 72 feet long and nearly 11 feet tall.

Jon K. Rust is co-president of Rust Communications. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com.

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