By Tia Lynn Ivey
Residential businesses will now be allowed in the Residential 4 Zoning District in the City of Madison.
The Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously approved a text amendment that would allow residential businesses as a conditional use in the Small Lot Residential District, a zoning district characterized by high-density housing, small lots, and pedestrian activity.
Janice Sullivan petition the council for the text amendment in order to open a wedding cake and baked goods business out of her home on Churchill Avenue in Madison.
“I would like to have a cottage business at this location so that I can make and sell wedding cake, cupcakes, cookies, candies and other sweet treats,” wrote Sullivan in her application. “In order for that to be possible, I am requesting a text amendment change so that I may then apply for a conditional use permit for a small business to be run out of home. My ultimate intent is to raise enough capital so that I may open a small bakery in downtown Madison.”
The council approved the text amendment with a recommended condition from the Madison Planning and Zoning Commission that established a 150-foot buffer, mandating that no other house within 150 feet of the residential business can open a residential business.
“ Residential businesses in R4 may not be located on premises nearer than 150 feet from an existing principal residence with an accessory residential business, as measured from property line premises to property line, with possible supplemental distancing requirements based on the type of residential business,” explained City Planner Mollie Bogle as she presented the recommended condition from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“This is in order to further protect the single-family residential primary use of the traditional residential areas of which R4 is a part and properly mitigate potential negative impacts for development scenarios accommodated by the zoning proposal,” said Bogle.
Bogle noted that residential businesses are becoming a trend.
“We have had an uptick in interest in residential businesses,” said Bogle, who noted home offices are not considered residential businesses and are therefore not subject to applying for a conditional use.
According to Bogle, a home office is more an individual workspace where a person conducts paperwork at a computer and is not dealing with customers or patrons in their home. A residential business would have customers and patrons coming into the home and would be subject to limits on the number of deliveries and number of employees working out of the home.
Popular residential businesses include yoga classes, hair salons, seamstress and tailoring businesses.
Councilwoman Chris Hodges hoped the text amendment would make it easier for local citizens to start their own businesses.
“We don’t want to put too many obstacles in the way of our citizens opening their own businesses,” said Hodges.
Anyone in the R4 Zoning District seeking to open a residential business would have to a apply for a conditional use and appear before the Madison Mayor and City Council to present their proposed residential business for approval.