AUGUSTA — A proposal to require home-based businesses to get a license from the city is up for approval by city councilors Thursday.

The new home occupation ordinance was prompted by concerns that home-based businesses could disrupt residential neighborhoods by drawing traffic to them, creating noise or dust or having other negative impacts on their surrounding neighborhoods.

The new rules would require any home-based business that generates vehicle or foot traffic to get a $30 home occupation license from the city, which would be good for three years. It would also ban any new auto repair businesses from opening at homes.

“This specifically requires a licensing process for all home occupations, which is something that is new and will help the city be able to keep track of where home occupations are and ensure they continue to meet the standards in the ordinance,” said Matt Nazar, development director for the city.

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti, the most vocal proponent of the new regulations, said the biggest change is that auto repair shops will no longer be allowed to open as home-based businesses. She has said auto repair shops are too intensive of a use in residential neighborhoods, bringing noise and, potentially, pollution.

Existing auto shops already operating as home occupations in the city will be allowed to continue but, Nazar said, only if they continue under the same operator. If a new owner or operator of the business comes along, he or she would not be allowed to continue operating the same shop.


Nazar said there are a few home-based auto repair shops operating in Augusta now.

The ordinance changes would require home-based businesses to operate in a manner that would not dramatically change the nature or appearance of their otherwise residential properties. It also would not allow home occupations to have more than one person working in them, other than a family member residing in the home.

Councilors may amend the proposal Thursday to provide an exemption to that specific rule for home day cares, to allow them to have up to two people working at them other than family members, at the request of At-Large Councilor Jennifer Day.

At the last council meeting at which the proposal was discussed, Day said she heard from in-home childcare providers worried that, if they could have no more than one person working in their day cares, they wouldn’t be able to meet state-mandated ratios of adults-to-children in their care.

“That may put some people out of business,” Day said of the restriction. “So I’d like to ask the council to add (an exception) for home day care facilities, so we’re not jeopardizing the ability to provide childcare in our city.”

Councilors are scheduled to take a final vote on the proposal at their 7 p.m. meeting Thursday.


Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Hold public hearings and consider approving tax increment financing tax breaks for two proposals, one to help a developer build a new 42-unit senior citizen affordable housing complex off Civic Center Drive and the other to help resident Adam Turner repurpose and renovate the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church property;

• Consider calling for a special election, Nov. 5, to fill a vacancy on the council, which will be created by the resignation of Day from her at-large position on the council;

• Authorize City Manager William Bridgeo to spend up to an additional $50,000, from a previously approved capital improvement program fund to pay for architectural engineering and other services needed as the city works on a proposal to build a new police station;

• Consider sending a proposal to the Planning Board, for review and recommendation back to councilors, to allow a medical marijuana retail store at a Bangor Street site where the current zoning would not allow it;

• Consider authorizing Bridgeo to offer for sale, by public auction, a parcel of tax-acquired land the city owns that has some frontage on Togus Pond and;

• Consider approving new contracts with fire department battalion chiefs, to run from 2017 until 2021.

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