By THADDEUS MAST / email@example.com • Saturday, September 27, 2014
Dwelling live/work has been on the Laramie City Council agenda for the past two months, but not one such business is currently registered in the city.
A motion that would have allowed live/work businesses in all residential zones — under conditional use permits — was struck down by the council because of the broadness of the amendment.
A motion to rezone the Church of Christ, 1730 Custer St., building for the purpose of obtaining a dwelling live/work permit caught the attention of the council, but this is the first formal application for a live/work permit the city has received.
“We’ve had some informal requests, but they never wanted to take it to the next step,” said Randy Hunt, community development director.
One reason for the lack of live/work businesses is people do not want to disrupt their neighborhoods, Hunt said.
“People are naturally respective of their neighborhood and they don’t want to inflict a lot of traffic and noise on their neighbors,” he said.
Another reason is the problem of visibility and pedestrian traffic. As a business grows, it can attract walk-in customers with signs and location. Businesses then move to more commercial areas, such as downtown, to get more business.
While there are no permitted live/work businesses, there could be some around the city that were grandfathered with the adoption of the Unified Development Code in 2010, Hunt said. A business that was previously allowed in a residential area and has been there legally in the past is allowed to operate. Spic and Span Laundromat and other businesses along Fourth Street are examples of businesses in residential areas.
A dwelling live/work business can occupy up to 50 percent of a residence, and can have a small number of employees and other business amenities, if it can obtain a conditional use permit, which analyzes parking, traffic and other possible disturbances to the neighborhood.
A home business is separate from dwelling live/work businesses. A home business cannot have any employees and cannot occupy more than 50 percent of the house, but restricting the business to around 25 percent would be best, Hunt said. It also does not need any permit or license. The city gets involved with home businesses when a complaint is received.
A home accountant or landscaping business that has few customers coming and going to the house would qualify as a home business. Home businesses do not need a license or permit to operate, so there is no way to tell how many there are in town.
“There could be several dozen or up to 100,” Hunt said. “It’s really all speculation.”
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