Metro Council roundly rejects home-based business bill

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 10:03pm

Legislation to accommodate home-based businesses went down in resounding defeat on second reading at the Metro Council Tuesday night, giving a victory to opponents who argued the bill would threaten the sanctity of neighborhoods.

“This is just a bad bill,” Metro Councilman Carter Todd said before the council voted 21-11, with five abstentions, to defeat it.

At issue was an ordinance introduced by Councilman Mike Jameson that sought to update the city’s antiquated home occupation code to protect those Nashvillians, who unknowingly, are illegally operating businesses from their homes.

Existing Metro law already allows residents to operate businesses from their houses, but it doesn’t permit patrons to visit for business purposes. Thus, home-based piano teachers, architects and others who have clients stop by violate the law.

“We went through the zoning codes of every comparable city in the United States,” Jameson said. “There is not a single city in the United States that flatly prohibits clients and patrons on site.”

Jameson filed a different version of the bill earlier this year but withdrew it to get further input from citizens. But even after 11 community meetings, an updated bill with various safeguards approved by the Metro Planning Commission and promises to make further accommodations, the bill failed to overcome criticism. 

“If you put lipstick on a pig, you’ve still got a pig,” Councilman Jim Gotto said.

Chief among the sticking points for council members was the question of whether installing a blanket policy over a city with different types of neighborhoods is wise. East Nashville is different than Donelson, the logic goes. Others questioned the assurance of enforcement of various stipulations within the bill. Some said approving the bill would set a negative trend of business intrusion into residential neighborhoods. 

Jameson’s legislation also faced opposition from outside fellow council members, with several citizens speaking against it at a public hearing held prior to the council’s vote. Among those who chastised the bill were former council members J.B. Loring and John Summers.

“I dare say there aren’t but a thousand or so people in this whole county that realize even what we’re discussing here tonight,” Summers said.

“We’re talking about bringing a substantial number of people into the neighborhoods,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of concerns about unintended consequences.”

How they voted:

Ayes (11): Jerry Maynard, Walter Hunt, Michael Craddock, Mike Jameson, Erik Cole, Kristine LaLonde, Edith Langster, Emily Evans, Jason Holleman, Sean McGuire, Duane Dominy

No (21): Tim Garrett, Charlie Tygard, Ronnie Steine, Lonnell Matthews Jr., Frank Harrison, Jim Forkum, Darren Jernigan, Jim Gotto, Bruce Stanley, Phil Claiborne, Anna Page, Buddy Baker, Greg Adkins, Randy Foster, Vivian Wilhoite, Jim Hodge, Parker Toler, Sam Coleman, Robert Duvall, Carter Todd, Bo Mitchell

Abstained (5): Jamie Hollin, Karen Bennett, Sandra Moore, Erica Gilmore, Eric Crafton

Absent (3): Megan Barry, Rip Ryman, Carl Burch 

In other business, the council approved on second reading a bill that would apply an historic zoning overlay to Sylvan Park's Elkins and Park avenues.

27 Comments on this post:

By: tdterry1999 on 7/6/11 at 6:31

who could stop you from having people come over.Does the police have nothing better to do.

By: bfra on 7/6/11 at 6:34

My vote will not go for any councilperson that voted Aye on this bill! There are already enough illegal businesses operating in neighborhoods, that codes does nothing to stop or close. In fact, codes doesn't do much, if anything, to enforce ANY code!

By: bfra on 7/6/11 at 6:37

tdterry - If you can't see the difference in "having people over" and operating a business illegally out of a residential location, guess you do have a problem.

By: tomw on 7/6/11 at 7:56

the proposed law said nothing about protecting illegal businesses. it was set up to allow home based business people to not break the law. Teachers, tutors, architects and home based legal representatives are just a few of the people who will now be breaking the law by making a legal living. We are not talking about crack dens here people!!
if the people who chose to be absent or to abstain had voted for the proposal it would have been very close. Why are we denying people the right to make a legal living? Who benefits from this but commercial landlords?
This city makes me crazy sometimes.

By: watchdog55 on 7/6/11 at 8:24

Who benefits? Residents of residential neighborhoods benefit; those of us who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in a residential neighborhood without a business operating next door benefit. Operating a business in your home is one thing, but bringing outside people into a neighborhood for business purposes is not what residential neighborhoods are all about. If this bill had been approved, it would have basically rezoned every residential neighborhood into a mixed use neighborhood. I have studied this bill very closely; I have discussed this bill with Councilman Jameson. There were simply too many problems with this bill. Making a legal living is great, but not if it means invading residential neighborhoods with customers/clients/patrons.

By: bfra on 7/6/11 at 8:31

tomw - Any business operating in a residential neighborhood now, is illegal. If this had passed, the #s of businesses would greatly increase. Codes does NOTHING about enforcing codes, so we could expect the quality of living in a residential area to be gone.

By: haveasay on 7/6/11 at 11:00

Close down any business operating in a residential neighborhood now that allows patrons to visit on site. Codes has their hands full of illegal business so let's report any that are in our neighborhoods.
Thank you Buddy Baker for voting against this bill, you have my vote in August.
To all my friends in Sylvan Park, vote for Tally. Mr. Holleman did not want a pharmacy in "his" district but he voted for a business to be next to your home.
I guess he wanted to set up a law office in Nashville while he is the Mt. Juliet Atty. or maybe he is going to set up a chicken coop and let people come buy eggs! Hey! notice that Holleman is not leading Summers around by the nose anymore.
I noticed that Emily Evans voted for businesses in her neighborhoods, she did not want a church in her district but o.k. business. Do these councilpersons represent their districts or their own personal agenda. Think about it before you vote in August.

By: budlight on 7/6/11 at 11:13

Metro Davidson County has over 10,000 mom and pop businesses operating in the gray area. The gov-ment needs to think about these honest down to earth people trying to make a living. A piano teacher can usually only teach one student at a time and it would be rough to try and teach 8 to 10 students per day, 7 days a week. So an occasional car in a neighborhood. Who cares? Even a tax preparer can logically only prepare one set of taxes at a time. A psychologist can only see one client at a time.

What is so wrong with a few extra cars here and there? I bet it's not as much "traffic" as people think. Probably less than someone having a friday night beer drinking buddies over party; or a super bowl bash at their home.

By: bfra on 7/6/11 at 3:00

bud - What is so wrong with a few extra cars here and there? I bet it's not as much "traffic" as people think. Probably less than someone having a friday night beer drinking buddies over party; or a super bowl bash at their home.

Friday night beer parties or super bowl bashes are not 7 days a wk. Open up residential areas for every wannabe business owner, might as well do away with residential and make all property commercial.

By: tomw on 7/6/11 at 3:04

budlight... that was exactly the point I was trying to make. Im not saying that I endorse any business that requires stock being kept on hand or distributed, I'm talking about those folks who would serve one client at a time.

By: rdbjr on 7/6/11 at 5:31

If former councilmember Summers' comment is true that "there aren’t but a thousand or so people in this whole county" who were even aware of this bill, then how much of a difference could its passage have had on our neighborhoods? I would expect there's hardly a neighborhood in the city that doesn't have a tutor, piano teacher or tailor breaking the law every time a client stops by for a lesson or to pick up an alteration. All this bill was intended to do was to legalize these small home-based businesses - and let codes focus on the real threats to our neighborhoods.

Where does the idea come from that there are thousands of business owners waiting to close up shop and relocate to their homes to sell their products to the masses 7 days a week?

By: nash615 on 7/7/11 at 5:30

Let me just say that ANY bill that Gotto makes a money quote against must've been a good idea. And ANY bill that Buddy Baker comes out from under his rock must've been a good idea. The District 20 brain trust (including "haveasay") who are all amped up to vote for their "Buddy" again already have the government they deserve. Thankfully lots of people in the District realize we don't deserve that kind of "representation".

Anyway, there's already law on the books for business home occupancy. The problem is that it's inconsistent, full of holes, and has lead to a situation where clandestine businesses are rampant (see stats on THOUSANDS of business registered to homes and only ~200 home occupancy permits issued) and yet the laws are basically unenforceable.

This bill would've actually improved the situation, only reactionary dumbsh*ts think the opposite (see also Gotto & Baker, above).

By: imdyinhere on 7/7/11 at 5:35

Fools. "Sanctity of neighborhoods?"

Have none noticed that it's the neighborhoods with increasing mixed use of residences AND businesses that are now thriving, with increased home values?

The beneficiaries of this vote are owners of office buildings, many of whom don't live in Nashville or anywhere else in Tennessee.

By: bruingeek on 7/7/11 at 6:28

I would be interested in knowing how many unregistered, home-based businesses have been shut down because they were operating from a residential address? I would guest that even the few who have been detected over the last decade did not include lawyers, real estate agents, piano teachers, tax preparers, or architects. I would also guess that the cost of detecting and shutting down those businesses cost the taxpayer more than anyone could imagine!

The proposed law may not have been good, however, the antique law that remains on the books is even worse.

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 7:40

Nash615 - (see stats on THOUSANDS of business registered to homes and only ~200 home occupancy permits issued) and yet the laws are basically unenforceable.

Show a link for those stats!

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 7:43

imdy - (see stats on THOUSANDS of business registered to homes and only ~200 home occupancy permits issued) and yet the laws are basically unenforceable. =========================
Show link as to where those businesses are registered to homes!

By: budlight on 7/7/11 at 8:07

usually the only time the home based business is checked out is when a neighbor complains. Usually the neighbor is bored, has nothing to do except watchdog the neighborhood and is probably slightly jealous that their neighbor is earning some extra money in this tight economy.

What harm does it do if a person is teaching piano lessons or some other moderate to low traffic business in their home? None!

Just bless them that they are able to stay off the state or federal dole! What would the gov-ment prefer: That they be independent or that they apply for aid?

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 8:12

imdy - Have none noticed that it's the neighborhoods with increasing mixed use of residences AND businesses that are now thriving, with increased home values?

This should have been the one I addressed to you before:

Where are these neighborhoods?

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 8:15

bud - As you have claimed to be self-employed, but admitted to NO business license, are you operating illegally out of your home, since you seem to be so in favor of this law change.

Why have residential zoning & commercial zoning, if businesses can just operate anywhere at will

By: budlight on 7/7/11 at 11:10

bfra, Well, I'm sure that if I had any type of business in any location, that you would not wish to patronize it, so why are you worried?

I'm in favor of this law change because there are 10,000 businesses in Nashville operating out of their homes. That is what I was told at the metro office which I called. Maybe they don't know what they are talking about.

I think that they should be grandfathered in and then the revenue would go to Metro. It's about revenue, bfra. comprehende'?

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 12:13

bud - Which office did you call? Please provide the phone #.

By: budlight on 7/7/11 at 1:17


By: budlight on 7/7/11 at 1:27

I called and left the person a message to call me back. I'm getting you the phone number and the name of the person I spoke with.

I know you are either too lazy or too inept (aka stupid) to look this up and research it yourself. So I will do it for you. After I get you the information backing up what I said, I will then expect some respect and an apology from you because you are always putting me down.

I will expect it. However, knowing you, I will not get it. But that's OK because my self-esteem is not based on what you think of me.

Have a nice day. Look for information soon; it might be posted on this page today or tomorrow.

By: budlight on 7/7/11 at 1:34

I know you are either too lazy or too inept (aka stupid) to look this up and research it yourself.

bfra, this was unkind and inconsiderate of me. I was thinking of someone else when I said this.

I will send you the phone # and name as soon as they call me back. No apology necessary. I was thinking of brrrrrrk when I wrote the post at 2:27.

Sorry for the blatent error!

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 2:25

Either these 10,000 businesses are operation illegally (and how would Metro know that), or Metro is issuing license to illegal businesses.

By: bfra on 7/7/11 at 2:26

make that operating illegally

By: tomw on 7/8/11 at 5:52

in respect to wanting to know more about "mixed use" neighborhoods, this is a modern reiteration of an ancient practice where business and residential coexist in harmony . Here in nashville some examples of mixed use areas would be 12 south, 5 Points, 5th street downtown, Murphy Road and Germantown. it is just logical to have Business in Neighborhoods where people can walk, interact and support their neighbors. The model of driving everywhere for everything is outmoded and, frankly wasteful.