City separates home 'occupation' from 'business'

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

This is part 2 in a new weekly series featuring tips from the Development Services Department on maintaining and improving properties. Part 1 featured swimming pools.

By Emily Le Coz
Daily Journal
TUPELO – A growing number of Tupelo homes now moonlight as work sites thanks to the convenience of the Internet and the creativity of otherwise unemployed residents in a sagging job market.
While the city supports and encourages this emerging trend, it draws a distinction between “home occupations” and “home businesses” and sets different guidelines for how each is handled.
The Development Services Department, which oversees municipal codes and ordinances, wants to educate property owners on the matter to ensure compliance with laws and promote success with business ventures.
“I feel strongly about home occupations and home businesses, because I feel our country was started on the cottage industry,” said Tupelo Zoning Administrator Marilyn Vail. “Especially with the economy the way it is, people get creative, start a home business, and it snowballs.”
Most people engaged in home-base work likely fall into the category of the home occupation. These are jobs where no more than one client enters the home at any given time and usually by appointment. Work is confined to an office or some other small part of the house.
Among the most common home occupations are accounting, counseling, tutoring, online sales, or some other type of computer-based work.
Residents don’t need permission to run an occupation out of their home as long as it takes up no more than one-fifth of the floor plan, doesn’t employ outside help, doesn’t have a steady flow of customers and doesn’t have any advertising visible from the outside.
This is different from a home business, which does require a conditional-use permit from the city because of its potential to impact a neighborhood.
Common home businesses include beauty salons, dog-grooming services, photography studios, yoga centers and any other trades that might generate increased traffic, noise or structural modifications to the house. Small signs outside the home are allowed.
“It’s more difficult to get some of these approved,” Vail said. “We want your neighbors to have an opinion on what you do and its effect on their properties and neighborhoods.”
The city holds a public hearing and invites all property owners within 500 feet of the proposed home business to speak for or against it. Some pass, some don’t.
“It’s really dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” Vail said. “But it’s important to go through the all the steps and make sure you do it right.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com

More information
TO ASK A QUESTION or report code violations, call the Tupelo Development Services Department at (662) 841-6510 and ask to speak to the Code Enforcement Division.