AUGUSTA — City councilors unanimously approved new regulations for the operators of home-based businesses, including a requirement they obtain licenses from the city for the first time.

The new home occupation ordinance was prompted by concerns that home-based businesses can disrupt residential neighborhoods by drawing traffic to them, creating noise or pollution, or leaving other negative impacts on neighborhoods.

The new rules will apply to any home-based business that generates vehicle or foot traffic and require them to get a $30 home occupation license from the city, which would be good for three years.

Matt Nazar, development director for the city, said the new rules require a license for all home occupations, which is new. He said that will help the city keep track of where home occupations are and ensure they continue to meet the standards in the ordinance.

The ordinance changes will 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 most home occupations to have more than one person working in them, other than family members residing in the home.

However, councilors amended the proposal Thursday to provide an exemption to that cap on the number of workers for home day cares, to allow up to two people working at them other than family members, on a motion by At-large Councilor Jennifer Day.


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 and could be forced to close.

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti expressed concern that a large day care could operate, and be disruptive to, a neighborhood.

“I don’t think you should be able to have a big day care in a neighborhood,” she said. “They could have up to 20 kids.”

At-large Councilor Marci Alexander said, however, that state regulations limit day cares operating out of residential homes to no more than 12 children.

Conti said she still considers 12 to be a lot but said she would be OK with it.

Stephen Lansdorf, city attorney, said there is no limit on the number of family members who live in a home that can work in a home occupation business.


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 legally will be allowed to continue but only if they continue under the same operator.

“If (an auto repair shop) is currently a legal use, and this ordinance makes it nonconforming, it would be grandfathered,” Nazar said. “If it’s not a legal use, it wouldn’t be grandfathered.”

Nazar said there are a few home-based auto repair shops operating in Augusta now. He also has said automobile repair shops based at residential properties are what draw the most complaints from residents.

The city’s rules would not apply to Airbnb-type online home rentals and sharing, which Nazar has said is not a type of business that has drawn any complaints in the city. Nazar also said there don’t seem to be many such businesses operating in Augusta. Some municipalities now regulate such rentals.

A home-based business could only be operated by a resident of the property. If the resident operator is a tenant of the property, the owner’s written permission to have the business there would be required.

Home occupations will be limited to one sign, with the owner’s name and occupation allowed on the sign, which can be no bigger than 2 square feet.

The only member of the public to speak about the proposal, resident Cecil Munson, a former city councilor, said he had looked forward, for years, for an ordinance to modify and improve the rules for home occupations in Augusta.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: