Commercial Property?

Business By rosita6882 Updated 25 Mar 2009 , 2:52am by Ladyfish74

rosita6882 Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 10:02pm
post #1 of 19

I just spoke with my local heath department and they told me that if i want to open a small cake shop it Has to be on commercial property. Is this true? All of the forums i have gone through, no one has said anything about the property having to be commercial. I have two acers of land and want to build a small shop but its not commercial and i dont know if i can afford to make it so. So if any of you know i would appreciate the info.

18 replies
indydebi Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:41pm
post #2 of 19

It's basic ordinance law .... a commercial venture cannot be run in a building/neighbrhood that is zoned residential. The zoning laws are in place to protect the property values. You wouldn't want a mechanic to open a garage in the house next door to you, having lots of broken down cars all over the street, making YOUR house look like crap and devaluing your home.

Sometimes you can request a variance .. ask the zoning board to grant an exception to you. There's a process to go thru ... the zoning board or someone on your city council can help explain how it's done.

KookieKris Posted 19 Mar 2009 , 11:53pm
post #3 of 19

When I was licensed, I seem to remember the person here doing the licensing saying that you could have a "licensed" home based business as long as the kitchen or shop is connected to your home.
He said he licensed someone who built a shop onto their home (with a connecting entrance into their home as well as an entrance/exit from the shop).
It might be something worth looking into!

bettinashoe Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:04am
post #4 of 19

It's normal practice to have the area zoned commercial before a business goes in. That's why you'll occasionally see those posters up for zoning meetings. If there weren't zoning ordinances you would have all these commercials buildings popping up in the neighborhood. It shouldn't be too difficult to request a zoning change since you live on acerage though. Don't give up!

maryjsgirl Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 12:13am
post #5 of 19

I wouldn't take the health department's word for it. That is not their job. I would call whomever is in charge of zoning in your city or county.

littlecake Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 1:35am
post #6 of 19

you need to go down and talk to the city they told me i could have a home bakery if i wanted a res. area.....if there wasn't gonna be a lot of traffic...there are rules about signage etc.

it varies from place to place....don't take his word for it.

cakesdivine Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 2:03am
post #7 of 19

Hey what happened to my post reply? It was here right after indydebi's earlier!

Anyway, I find that odd in Texas. Are you in the city limits of McAllen? If not then zoning doesn't apply to land in the county, or outside of a developed subdivision. If your land is in a rural area then the city guidelines don't apply.

rosita6882 Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 4:03pm
post #8 of 19

It is out of city limits. And its close to McAllen, Im in Edinburg, one city away. But i have two and a half acres that i could use to build on. And as far as neighbors, were all family. A total of 20 acres between us.

jewelykaye Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 5:18pm
post #9 of 19

I live in Houston and about a year ago I started to research this quite heavily. I haven't looked at the information in a while so I might be a little rusty. The Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER) provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services says that you can build a separate kitchen on your property and use it as a commercial kitchen. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't state anything about it needing to be on commercial property.

Here's a link to the TFER:
Here's a link to the Texas Department of State Health Services website:
Here's a link to where it specifically talks about facilities in the TFER:$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=25&pt=1&ch=229&rl=167

I hope all of that isn't too overwhelming.

Again back when I was doing the research I did a lot of calling my local and the state health department. The state and local health departments told me it is fine to build a commercial kitchen (separate from your home) on your property as long as your HOA (home owner's assoc.) doesn't have a problem with it.

So I would do some calling if I where you. I actually called and talked to the inspector that worked my zone since he would be the most educated on what he would and would not approve.

I know there are plenty of people in Texas that have legal, commercial kitchens built in their garages and on their residential property.

Also, if you aren't aware there is currently a bill that is trying to be passed in Texas that would make it legal to sell baked goods from the home which would mean you wouldn't need a "commercial" kitchen per say. Please check out the link to the discussion that is going on about it in the forum:
Or you can check out the website KelleyM set up for the Texas Cottage Food Law:

Hope this helps!

indydebi Posted 20 Mar 2009 , 9:34pm
post #10 of 19

I know every stat and even every community operates differently, but the health dept and the zoning dept are two different entities. The health dept's generally look at food prep stuff ... and not zoning laws.

I encourage you to call BOTH depts to find out how it works in your area.

Ladyfish74 Posted 21 Mar 2009 , 1:01am
post #11 of 19

I live in Texas. I live in the county outside the city limits. I know that in this county (Orange) there are no rules saying you can't have a commercial shop on your property, but here's the deal: if you are planning to open a shop where people pick up cakes all day and delivery trucks go back and forth and the traffic will affect the neighbors, you may have a problem. If it is as you say and you don't have any neighbors except family, then you should be fine. Some smaller cities in TX don't even have zoning rules.

That's why we moved here, because we got tired of the government all up in our business all the time. Texas is pretty good about staying out of your business unless you are bothering someone or have a neighborhood organization that prohibits certain things.

You will absolutely need a health permit though. That I know for sure. Here a permit for a year is $70. You won't need a business license either because you live outside the city.

Don't forget about insurance. You will need a liability policy for people being injured on your property, not so much because of food poisoning or something because that rarely happens, but in case someone stumbles or slips while picking up a cake. People will think because you own land and a business, that you are rich and they can get money out of you.

Again, all counties are different, so you will need to check with the county
to see if they have any zoning requirements, but I'd be surprised if they did.

Good luck! I think you will do great! thumbs_up.gif

cakesdivine Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 4:05am
post #12 of 19

$70!??? That's odd, it is $258 to the State of TX alone to get your food establishment permit! and $104 if you are renting a comm. kitchen and permitted as a food manufacturer grossing less than $9999.00. If the county or city govern your area it is either the same or more depending on how much those entities want on top of what the State gets!

And yes you do want a tax ID permit (this one is free) and A DBA from your county or if you do biz in more than one county get a DBA in every county you plan on doing business in. A DBA in TX will range from $11 to $24 depending on your county. I think most have them at $16 for a sole proprietorship.

indydebi Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 4:26am
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by Ladyfish74

You will absolutely need a health permit though. That I know for sure. Here a permit for a year is $70. You won't need a business license either because you live outside the city.

Wow, I just wrote a check for over $500 for my renewal.

Ladyfish74 Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 5:18pm
post #14 of 19

Another reason we live in Texas. We came from California where everything--including licenses and permits--were outrageous. The climate in this country is not business friendly right now. Amazing, since we are the ones providing the jobs. Texas is still more business friendly than most states. People are moving here in droves, so that will probably change things eventually. It usually does.

Ladyfish74 Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 5:22pm
post #15 of 19

Oh, and also, Indydebi, I just did a tasting with your heat-tolerant icing. She loves it. the wedding will be outdoors in June so the bride feels good about not having to worry about the cake melting. Thanks for sharing the recipe. thumbs_up.gif

ladyonzlake Posted 23 Mar 2009 , 5:36pm
post #16 of 19

Yeah, was thinking $70 is cheap! I pay $500 per year in the Seattle area.

Ladyfish74 Posted 24 Mar 2009 , 2:36am
post #17 of 19

I am not licensed to do anything but low spoilage foods. I'm sure that's the difference. As far as I have been able to ascertain, a food handler's permit is not necessary if you are not handling meat, poultry, seafood etc.. and are not actually serving high spoilage product in its' uncooked/unstabilized state ie..milk, butter, cream etc... I have called the state and they referred me to my local health department because of the nature of my business. I'm sure that if I ever go into catering as some of you have, that fee will go way up, but as far as I can tell, rosita just wants to do cake.

ladyonzlake Posted 24 Mar 2009 , 1:38pm
post #18 of 19

Wow, Ladyfish74 Texas is more flexible than Washington! I only do cakes and they placed me in the "catering" category which is pretty high on the "fee" list and they do require a food handlers for me which isn't a big deal only $10 for that and the test is very easy.

Ladyfish74 Posted 25 Mar 2009 , 2:52am
post #19 of 19

yes, I went through all the right channels and that is what I ended up paying. It's entirely possible that someone on the state or local level made a mistake. The inspector said she didn't have to check oven temps or anything like that because I wasn't doing high spoilage food. I just have to have a triple bay sink, a watertight floor, a mop sink, a handwashing sink, stainless counters, sealed wooden surfaces and all the correct inspections for the gas lines, electricity, fire extinquishers, etc.. which has already been done by the fire marshall and building inspectors. The fact that it was a state-built commercial kitchen to begin with might have something to do with getting licensed so easily and cheaply. I really don't know why it varies so much.

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