Zoning Loosened to Help Home Businesses

The rough economy has made code officers negotiators between irked neighbors and entrepreneurs trying to make a living in their living rooms.
February 16, 2010, 8am PST | Cathy Duchamp
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Imagine being a planner who's called in to broker a solution between one neighbor who opens a hair and tanning salon in a garage, and another neighbor who's mad about the sudden lack of street parking. It's happening in cities across the country, including Nashville Tennessee, where city managers are attempting to change zoning codes to accommodate home-based businesses while preserving neighborhood peace.

Nashville planning director Rich Bernhardt tells the Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Levitz "we've got to recognize the changing and evolving economic environment of today without changing the character of neighborhoods." Unemployment in the Nashville metro area is over 9%. Bernhardt estimates there are now 14.000 licensed businesses operating illegally because they're located in residential areas.

New Jersey is looking to loosen zoning laws on a state level, to make it easier for municipalities to approve home-based ventures. State Republican Rep. Jay Webber says its important to offer a "save haven for the temporarily unemployed."

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Published on Saturday, February 13, 2010 in Wall Street Journal
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