Email From Zoning Planner

Business By mommabuda Updated 29 Jan 2010 , 6:49pm by littlecake

mommabuda Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 8:19pm
post #1 of 32

Here's what the zoning guy just sent me:
"I was just being honest with you about my opinions on the re-zoning. There is a $300.00 fee for a re-zoning hearing but again I feel strongly that you will not be successful knowing where you live. The zoning district would have to be a B-2 district which in no way fits into that neighborhood. I do not think the neighbors would want it. They may think the zoning would only allow a bakery but it would also allow hardware stores, liquor stores, meat markets, and 20 other possible uses. The usage also does not follow the City's Comprehensive Plan that identifies that area as residential.

Building codes have also changed lately that requires commercial hoods to be installed over even residential-type stoves used for commercial purposes. These hoods costs thousands of dollars. There are tons of other requirements in the building code that you'd have to follow as well.

The home on Hamilton was actually turned into a bakery b/4 proper city approval. They had to seek a zone change and would have had to close if they were not successful. There a few other pockets of business zoning in that immediate area so it was not as big of a change for them.

The bottom line is that commercial kitchens do not belong in residential neighborhoods. It's hard to discuss this via email. If you'd like to stop down at City Hall I'd be happy to talk to you and show you our zoning map, comprehensive plan, copies of the building code, etc, so that you have a full understanding of your request."

He seems like he's trying to scare me off with costs of things and such. I do not think there would be a problem getting the neighbors on board with this idea but I don't understand why the entire area would need to be turned into a commercial zone... can't we just make it a business out of my home but still have the inspector come through? I'm going to bring up the variance thing to him when I go down there... anything else you can think of that I should say?

31 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 8:24pm
post #2 of 32

While I certainly feel for you... Are you certain your neighbors would be okay with the possibility of Hardware stores. Liquer stores and meat markets being smack dab in the middle of their neighborhood? Even if it is not you but it could become someone else looking to do the same thing.....

I'm not sure they would and I think he is trying to make you understand that...I do hope you can go forward but the reality is you may have to change your plan and move to an actual commercial building...

Hope everything works out!! icon_smile.gif

mommabuda Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 8:31pm
post #3 of 32

No, I do not like the possibility of that but I don't see why they would have to change me to that category in the first place. I don't want an open door bakery. I just want to be able to take cake orders and bake/deliver them. I wouldn't have people stopping at my house nonstop to buy bakery. Most people wouldn't even know there's a second kitchen added onto our house. There will be no traffic from it, kwim? I would just think there would be another way around this all rather than having to rezone completely in order for me to sell a couple of cakes legally a week.

Kiddiekakes Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 8:35pm
post #4 of 32

Well I certainly hope there is another way because everyone has a dream and I don't like to see them squashed especially by some no name who pushes a pencil...Good Luck!!

11cupcakes Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 10:07pm
post #5 of 32

I think you should consult someone. I am not sure if they understand right what you trying to do. I heard before that sometimes neighbors have to sign some papers .

thecookieladycc Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 10:48pm
post #6 of 32

did he seriously type "b/4" ? really????

bakers2 Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 11:01pm
post #7 of 32

I have a small commercial kitchen that is located behind my home I cannot have a retail store because of the zoning (zoned residential) the zoning concerns were primarily regarding the traffic alloted to the street I live on... I can, however, have a home-based business - no signage allowed altho I do happen to have my 'name' painted in the window ;o)

you may ask if something like this would apply in your situation...

Good Luck!

pattycakesnj Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 11:24pm
post #8 of 32

The problem is that it is not just your immediate neighbors that need to be consulted and agree to the variance. (That would be easy especially if you are good friends with your next door neighbors) My town required neighbors behind me (that I didn't even know) neighbors in surrounding streets, etc (that I also didn't know and most strangers are going to be reluctant to sign off if they don"t know you). So when he says your neighbors must agree, in writing, to your variance, it is very misleading because of zoning boards definition of neighbor. Good luck. (PS, he is right about that fire suppression hood vent, we have one in our shop and it costs thousands)

leah_s Posted 27 Jan 2010 , 11:43pm
post #9 of 32

Among my many hats and jobs, I chair the Board of Zoning Adjustment for Louisville, KY. Although you would probably be dealing with your local Planning Commission for a zone change.

Changing your house's zoning, which might appear simple, is not. It's called "spot zoning" and is frowned upon by professional planners, and although I don't know where you're located, the fact that your city has a Comprehensive Plan, tells me there is a staff of professional planners. He's right, you can't be zoned for a "bakery", without also permitting ALL the other uses that are permitted in B2.

Honestly, it's not gonna happen.

What you might pursue, is a permit for a home business, which might be permitted by right within your local zoning laws. It certainly is here, and this city has some aggressive zoning. A home biz generally comes with the rule that you can't have people coming in, although you may be able to meet a small number of clients in your home biz. Under zoning law, this is typically used for people who run a biz out of their home that is computer centered, but doesn't have to be such a biz.

Once you get a permit for a home biz, then talk to the health dept people (or better yet before you bother to pay the fee for the home biz permit) and find out what's involved with that. You may or may not be classified as a "commercial kitchen." I operate under a catering license and do not have to have a hood over my residential stove/oven.

The planner doesn't understand what you need, and is envisioning a typical commercial, walk-in bakery.

vagostino Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 12:02am
post #10 of 32

exactly what Leah said. Before you keep dealing with this guy, check the law for other type businesses like home base business, caterer etc...and see if you can fit your business into any of the other definitions...

leah_s Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 12:12am
post #11 of 32

From your zoning code:

(24) Home Occupation. A gainful occupation
conducted by members of the family only, within
their place of residence; provided that no article is
sold or offered for sale on the premises except such
as is produced by such occupation, that no stock in
trade is kept or sold, that no sign other than one (1)
unlighted announcement or professional sign not
over three (3) square feet in area may be installed
and that only one (1) person other than a member of
the immediate family living on the premises is

leah_s Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 12:17am
post #12 of 32

More from your zoning code, R-1 (a residential class) What's your zoign class?

8.05 (2) (b) Customary home occupations or professional
offices conducted by the resident only, provided that
there be no external evidence of such use except an
announcement or professional sign not over three (3)
square feet in area.

mommabuda Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 12:52pm
post #13 of 32

We are in an R2... we are in the smack middle of our zone (which stinks) but my dad's house is a block away and on the edge of the zone... we've considered turning his back shed into the cake kitchen too if it would be possible... ???

leah_s Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 1:35pm
post #14 of 32

Doesn't matter if you're in the middle of a zone or on the edge of a zone. If you're zoned, you're zoned. I'm just advising, as a planning official from another state that has nothing to do with your locality (read free advice is worth what you pay for it) to pursue another avenue rather than rezoning.

Around here, rezoning is very expensive and very time consuming. You need to read your zoning code and look for places to fit your business into the existing code.

littlesweetpea Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 2:30pm
post #15 of 32

Mommabuda-please discuss your plans with both the health inspector(local & state) and the zoning board before putting money into anything.
Take it from me-I tried 15 yrs ago in Waukesha to do what you want to do. It's not so much your neighbors as much as those who sit on the zoning board. If they allow you, then they feel they will have others who will want variances in that area. And when they have a comprehensive plan on the books-they will not stray.
Also the hood part is absolutely true. It not only will cost you $8000-$10000 for the hood(most commercial sellers only have new hoods), but will cost a pretty penny to install it.
Please look into all costs beforehand.

mommabuda Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 2:57pm
post #16 of 32

Well, thanks for trying to scare me off with costs... that's not really an issue for me at all. I do understand the zoning laws and I do want to find a way through it (not to change the whole zone). I just think this is all so stupid. I'm going to see what he has to say about the home business aspect of it.. maybe that would be an option? They should really have this as an exception though... especially when it's not an open door, full blown bakery. Sorry, I'm just really getting frustrated.

mommabuda Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 2:59pm
post #17 of 32
Originally Posted by leah_s

Doesn't matter if you're in the middle of a zone or on the edge of a zone. If you're zoned, you're zoned. I'm just advising, as a planning official from another state that has nothing to do with your locality (read free advice is worth what you pay for it) to pursue another avenue rather than rezoning.

Around here, rezoning is very expensive and very time consuming. You need to read your zoning code and look for places to fit your business into the existing code.

Sorry, meant to clarify this as well. This guy told me on the phone that if we were on the edge of the zone, they might be able to do something for me. I'm not really familiar with this so I'm not questioning your knowledge (more like questioning his... lol) but that's what I meant by it.

cownsj Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 3:25pm
post #18 of 32

Have you asked them about the possibility of getting a variance. It's not rezoning, just making an exception based on your particular circumstances. It happens all the time. I'd definitely be asking about that option.

divaricks Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 3:40pm
post #19 of 32

If costs aren't an issue then why not go and lease a commercial space?

littlesweetpea Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 3:43pm
post #20 of 32

I wasn't try to scare you off-I just wanted you to be aware. So many people are not aware of all that goes into it. Whether it be the costs or the time getting thru to all the "governing" people. As you stated yourself, it's frustrating. The laws here in Wi can be difficult to interpret when it comes to having a food-related business attached to a home/residential area. I truly wish you all the best, and just keeping pushing through. It will take time. But when you want something bad enough, all you need is patience.

mommabuda Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 3:56pm
post #21 of 32

Thanks. We bought this house with these intentions in mind. It wasn't our sole purpose for buying the house but it was in the back of our minds. I also have small children and was hoping to be able to do this from home. I'd rather be near my family than have to go "to work" across town and be away from my family. After seeing the house only about 2 miles away from me that has a kitchen added onto the back for this purpose, I thought it would for surely be possible. I won't give up easily. I will try everything I can come up with to make it happen and I appreciate the suggestions. I will bring up a "variance" at our meeting. This guy is supposed to get back to me with a good day for him to meet with my husband & myself. I'll post more once that happens icon_smile.gif

divaricks Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 4:07pm
post #22 of 32

I was lucky enough to find a commercial space that we have made into our cake shop. It is 1.5 miles from my home and since I am the owner, I bring my children to work with me and have a space for them here. I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old and so far so good (we opened in July). I am just trying to give you another possible option. It can work.

leah_s Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 4:57pm
post #23 of 32

A variance is something dimensional - a fence that should be 4" tall, but you want it to be 6' tall, for example. Or you're supposed to have a 5' setback from your side lot line and you want to put your house 3' from the side lot line. Variances are about *dimensions*.

For uses, you'll want a Conditional Use Permit, if one is available. That will allow a specific use not normally allowed. The CUP is for a specific use, not all the uses in the zone, and runs with the land.

Isn't zoning fun?

JustToEatCake Posted 28 Jan 2010 , 5:21pm
post #24 of 32

I really hope you get what you want but I have to tell you what happened to my Dad's neighborhood once they allowed businesses. The main street that connects to my is Dad's house (a residential neighborhood). Someone went to the planning board and asked to open a home business, I don't know what it was exactly but it was presented something like Heating and Airconditioning where they have no business at their home, just a vehicle. No one in the neighborhood objected, ya know that's fine, nothing bothersome to the neighbors, etc. Well since that guy did that other's went to the board and were able to rezone ALL these homes, yes they are still small ranch style homes BUT there are at least 5 used car lots within the 1 mile stretch, yes they park them on the grass in front of the houses (that my school mates used to live in). There are realty companies, 4 daycares, pest control, used book store, palm reader and it's AWFUL!!! It's ugly and everyone hates it, but no one knew this is what it would become. In the paper when someone mentions re-zoning in a residental area this street is always referred to as "A Don't". So the guy with the heating and airconditioning never was a problem, all you saw was his truck come and go BUT because they let HIM they had to let everyone's a nightmare and property values have decreased to all the homes that their roads connect to that road...I really hope you get what you want but having experienced this I wanted to let you know from someone who has experienced the "whys" of zoning. It's not your business that would hurt anything, it's what other's might start up.

mommabuda Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 3:01am
post #25 of 32

He just got back to me and said we could meet this Monday about it so we'll be going to talk it over AND he had some great news icon_smile.gif He said:
"After some research I also found out that the Commercial Building Code would not apply to your situation as long as the area used for the business would be less than 25% of the habitable floor area of the dwelling, (Wisconsin Administrative Code 62.02(3)(h)). Please also see the requirements of 62.02(4)

This is huge for you as the commercial kitchen requirements are overwhelming."

leah_s Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 3:11am
post #26 of 32

The 25% rule is the home business rule. icon_smile.gif

mommabuda Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 3:13am
post #27 of 32

So is this good or not good... lol? I hate getting all excited and then having it crushed again.. not fun!

jenmat Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 3:26am
post #28 of 32

Don't know anything about zoning, but am pulling for ya- I'm up a little north of you. Sounds like you're being persistent, and that's great. Sometimes people will tell you the easy answer just so they don't have to do the research to get the right answer. Hopefully this is one of those situations!
It makes me crazy that every county, city, etc has different standards! I'm lucky enough to be out in the middle of nowhere, so nobody cared when I needed to check zoning!

Ruth0209 Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 4:44am
post #29 of 32
Originally Posted by Kiddiekakes

Well I certainly hope there is another way because everyone has a dream and I don't like to see them squashed especially by some no name who pushes a pencil...Good Luck!!

In all fairness, this man is doing his job, and you'd be glad for that if someone was trying to open a strip joint next to your house.

Just because a public official gives you an answer you don't like doesn't make him a jerk. Zoning laws are in place to protect your property value, and they actually do serve a really important purpose.

OP, it sounds like he's being very conscientious in doing some additional research to see if he can make it work for you. Good luck!

mommabuda Posted 29 Jan 2010 , 12:57pm
post #30 of 32

I do believe the only reason he looked into it more is because I'm coming down to his office to meet with him otherwise he would've just forgotten about it all by now. I'm very glad that my husband talked me out of my crying fit that night and told me to be persistent.. lol.. we'll see what this all entails though... who knows.

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