Home Based Businesses:doa Inspection Or Zoning First?

Business By tigachu Updated 14 Apr 2011 , 4:29am by scp1127

tigachu Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 2:27am
post #1 of 24

I want to ask the opinion of the legal bakers (especially those in VA). I want to become legal in my state. If you look at my photos, you are probably asking who would even buy my products icon_surprised.gif . I am working on my decorating skills! Especially for cakes icon_redface.gif I have been baking for a few years and I really love it. It took a while of trial and error to understand the science behind all of this. I still have so much to learn about scratch baking and baking in general.

When I started a new job years ago, I started bringing my "goodies" in; loaves of bread, cinnamon rolls, SMBC, mango/lime/lemon curd, mousse, pastry cream, muffins, dinner rolls, cupcakes, danishes, loaf cakes, cookies, and samples of iced (not decorated) cakes. I drilled everyone to find out how to improve until I was completely happy with my recipes and techniques. I get requests for these items all the time but I turn them down because I do not want to make anything for free and I do not want to break the law either icon_cool.gif .

To become legal, I will need to go through the Department of Agriculture and zoning. I am working on the packets for both now. I have to petition my zoning board because I live in a town house, which could take 6-12 months icon_eek.gif and cost about $400. Which would you choose to do first? I would want to know if I can pass the inspection from the Department of Agriculture but it won't matter if zoning won't approve.

I plan to keep my full time job and only accept a couple orders per week. I do not want to advertise yet because I want to work off of word of mouth for now. I plan to sell bread, loaf cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins (I wont sell cakes until I am better at decorating). I love to bake. I just want to sell my baked goods to people who can appreciate it-on a small scale for now.

I apologize for the very long post but would you tackle the Department of Agriculture or the zoning department first?

23 replies
scp1127 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 8:15am
post #2 of 24

I am one state over. In our area, you apply to the HD, then zoning approval, etc., comes next. I don't think you can get a permit without the zoning approval first. Will they come out just for a visit? Our HD offers that so you know what you are getting into. Ask if the Dept of Ag will make a courtesy stop when they are in town.

tigachu, I do it all too. My bakery does cakes and cupcakes, but also muffins, pies, cookies, chocolate, the whole thing. I love it this way. Good luck.

tigachu Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 11:10am
post #3 of 24

Thank you so much for the advice. I will check with theDepartment of Agriculture to see if they can do a courtesy stop.

Thank you so much icon_smile.gif

Lita829 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 12:50pm
post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tigachu

I want to ask the opinion of the legal bakers (especially those in VA). I want to become legal in my state. If you look at my photos, you are probably asking who would even buy my products icon_surprised.gif . I am working on my decorating skills! Especially for cakes icon_redface.gif I have been baking for a few years and I really love it. It took a while of trial and error to understand the science behind all of this. I still have so much to learn about scratch baking and baking in general.

When I started a new job years ago, I started bringing my "goodies" in; loaves of bread, cinnamon rolls, SMBC, mango/lime/lemon curd, mousse, pastry cream, muffins, dinner rolls, cupcakes, danishes, loaf cakes, cookies, and samples of iced (not decorated) cakes. I drilled everyone to find out how to improve until I was completely happy with my recipes and techniques. I get requests for these items all the time but I turn them down because I do not want to make anything for free and I do not want to break the law either icon_cool.gif .

To become legal, I will need to go through the Department of Agriculture and zoning. I am working on the packets for both now. I have to petition my zoning board because I live in a town house, which could take 6-12 months icon_eek.gif and cost about $400. Which would you choose to do first? I would want to know if I can pass the inspection from the Deartment of Agriculture but it won't matter if zoning won't approve.

I plan to keep my full time job and only accept a couple orders per week. I do not want to advertise yet because I want to work off of word of mouth for now. I plan to sell bread, loaf cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins (I wont sell cakes until I am better at decorating). I love to bake. I just want to sell my baked goods to people who can appreciate it-on a small scale for now.

I apologize for the very long post but would you tackle the Department of Agriculture or the zoning department first?




Your situation sounds identical to mine....every bit of it. It stinks. I'm trying to figure things out because word of mouth has gotten big and, if your products are as good as you say, that will happen for you too. Good luck.

leah_s Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 1:22pm
post #5 of 24

I've been *very* involved with zoning in my city. Sat on the zoning board for the entire area for 6 years. Around here, you'd need to get zoning approval first, because if you don't have that there's no need applying for any other parts of the process.

tigachu Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:03pm
post #6 of 24

Thank you so much for your ideas!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I've been *very* involved with zoning in my city. Sat on the zoning board for the entire area for 6 years. Around here, you'd need to get zoning approval first, because if you don't have that there's no need applying for any other parts of the process.




Leah_s: based on experience with your county, what would a person's odd be for a favorable decision if i lived in a townhome but WILL NOT have clients come to my home and no signage in the yard or on the home? I plan to deliver all baked goods.
thank you,

elliespartycake Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:24pm
post #7 of 24

Just a thought...if you live in a town home...is it part of a condo association? If so, you might want to check the condo rules and by-laws as I would think that those might contain guidelines and/or restrictions as to what you can and can not do in your condo community.

Uniqueask Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:26pm
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I've been *very* involved with zoning in my city. Sat on the zoning board for the entire area for 6 years. Around here, you'd need to get zoning approval first, because if you don't have that there's no need applying for any other parts of the process.





That is exactly the way to do it, like Leah_s said, because if the zoning does not give you approval, it does not matter who else does, and according to how you want to do it you could be lucky, I was, that is exactly how I did it, it depends on the zoning board members.

scp1127 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:39pm
post #9 of 24

The zoning board checks covenants. Unfortunately, there may be stipulations that will stop you in an apartment situation. You can call your landlord and see if you can get the information from the owner or you can go to the courthouse and look up the deed yourself. Make sure that your lease does not already address home based businesses.

leah_s Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:47pm
post #10 of 24

My city allows home based businesses under zoning laws as long as they don't take up more than 25% of your home's square footage. There are other rules about signage and how many employees you can have (1 plus family members) and how many clients can be in your home biz at any one time (2).

Now, condo communities have an extra layers of regulations as mentioned above - covenants, sometimes called deed restrictions. Some subdivisions have those also. That would be the first place to look.

Lita829 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 7:24pm
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tigachu

Thank you so much for your ideas!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I've been *very* involved with zoning in my city. Sat on the zoning board for the entire area for 6 years. Around here, you'd need to get zoning approval first, because if you don't have that there's no need applying for any other parts of the process.



Leah_s: based on experience with your county, what would a person's odd be for a favorable decision if i lived in a townhome but WILL NOT have clients come to my home and no signage in the yard or on the home? I plan to deliver all baked goods.
thank you,




Ditto again. I don't live in a town home but how I'd want to conduct business is the same. A lot of great info in this thread

scp1127 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 7:49pm
post #12 of 24

Lita, if you don't live in a subdivision, chances are better. And many counties (outside city limits) have no zoning. I live in a subdivision. The neighborhood is mostly professional. I am actually on the main road and not in the subdivision. We are just on their water system. I was sure that this place would have restrictions. My husband, who is a physician and built the house 25 years ago, assured me that I was ok before I went to the zoning board. The owners made sure that they could have boutique businesses when they retired. This is an exception to the rule. Most subdivisions and townhomes will not alow home based businesses.

Lita829 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 8:32pm
post #13 of 24

This conversation has lit a fire under my tush. I am going to go to City Hall tomorrow and see what my options are icon_biggrin.gif

tigachu Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 8:35pm
post #14 of 24

I spoke with my HOA and they encouraged me to get approval from zoning first. I think their main concern was that I wouldn't post signs, park a company vehicle in the driveway, and have clients come to my home (increasing traffic and taking up parking spaces). She told me that zoning will hold a meeting for neighbors with concerns (as they will, too) but it is best to get everything hashed out there first.

I will set up a pre-application appointment for next Thursday (hopefully). I cannot afford an attorney at this time so I hope this is something I can handle on my own icon_redface.gif

I knew I could depend on my fellow CCers for knowledge and support thumbs_up.gif

*edited for grammar

springlakecake Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 9:08pm
post #15 of 24

I had the department of Agriculture come over to see if I could even get approval from them. She said that we could, so i went to zoning next.

scp1127 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 9:16pm
post #16 of 24

So tigachu, do you need a variance? You only need a "town hall" meeting if you are asking for something that violates the covenants.Get a copy of your covenants and read it for yourself. It may be in there and they don't want you to use it. HOA's can act like gods at times, telling you what you can and can't do. We have another piece of property a mile form us... my husband's office. We own three of the four commercial properties at the beginning of the subdivision. The HOA, after thirty years, decided to make the vacant lots pay dues at triple the rate. This was not in the deed. We are taking the HOA to court. When they finish paying our legal fees, there will be a serious dent in their funds. We do have lawyers. If you don't, READ THE COVENANTS YOURSELF. Get it from the courthouse, not them. Town hall meetings are not fun. You had better have a thick skin. They will vote against you because they don't like your kids, because your husband's best friend parked in their spot, your dog pooped in their yard... you get it.

Lita829 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 9:20pm
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tigachu

I spoke with my HOA and they encouraged me to get approval from zoning first. I think their main concern was that I wouldn't post signs, park a company vehicle in the driveway, and have clients come to my home (increasing traffic and taking up parking spaces). She told me that zoning will hold a meeting for neighbors with concerns (as they will, too) but it is best to get everything hashed out there first.

I will set up a pre-application appointment for next Thursday (hopefully). I cannot afford an attorney at this time so I hope this is something I can handle on my own icon_redface.gif

I knew I could depend on my fellow CCers for knowledge and support thumbs_up.gif

*edited for grammar




I agree...this site and everyone on it is AMAZING. Good luck to you, Tigachu icon_smile.gif

pinkpiggie78 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 9:25pm
post #18 of 24

I am in VA and got my inspection first, but was told that neither one cared about one another so I really don't think it matters to them. For me, I was even told at zoning that if I didn't come in, they wouldn't do anything about it unless I got complaints.

Lita829 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 10:32pm
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

So tigachu, do you need a variance? You only need a "town hall" meeting if you are asking for something that violates the covenants.Get a copy of your covenants and read it for yourself. It may be in there and they don't want you to use it. HOA's can act like gods at times, telling you what you can and can't do. We have another piece of property a mile form us... my husband's office. We own three of the four commercial properties at the beginning of the subdivision. The HOA, after thirty years, decided to make the vacant lots pay dues at triple the rate. This was not in the deed. We are taking the HOA to court. When they finish paying our legal fees, there will be a serious dent in their funds. We do have lawyers. If you don't, READ THE COVENANTS YOURSELF. Get it from the courthouse, not them. Town hall meetings are not fun. You had better have a thick skin. They will vote against you because they don't like your kids, because your husband's best friend parked in their spot, your dog pooped in their yard... you get it.




Once again...you're right. I don't know anything about her town or neighbors, but they could object out of jealousy because they don't have the talent or drive to become an entrepeneur, out of pettiness, or just to be mean. This is good advice, spc1127, that I plan to take. Thank you for your knowledge.

Tigachu...check out this thread.
http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-715402-.html

scp1127 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 11:32pm
post #20 of 24

Good luck, lita. I know this because we have been throgh it many times with subdivisions. The good news is that the board doesn't really pay attention to that talk. We had a subdivision where they all quit paying their dues. We needed a variance to widen part of the road to get to the back section of the subdivision. They all voted against us because we didn't plow the road when it snowed. It got ugly. We got it anyway because it benefitted the back section people. My husband put leins on all of their houses for the back dues and now we plow the road. The leins keep piling up. And there was a guy in the neighborhood that plowed it anyway. It was just one little road. Too bad for them.

Lita829 Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 12:25am
post #21 of 24

Thank you.

I'm glad that you won your case icon_smile.gif

tigachu Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 2:29am
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

So tigachu, do you need a variance? You only need a "town hall" meeting if you are asking for something that violates the covenants.Get a copy of your covenants and read it for yourself. It may be in there and they don't want you to use it. HOA's can act like gods at times, telling you what you can and can't do. We have another piece of property a mile form us... my husband's office. We own three of the four commercial properties at the beginning of the subdivision. The HOA, after thirty years, decided to make the vacant lots pay dues at triple the rate. This was not in the deed. We are taking the HOA to court. When they finish paying our legal fees, there will be a serious dent in their funds. We do have lawyers. If you don't, READ THE COVENANTS YOURSELF. Get it from the courthouse, not them. Town hall meetings are not fun. You had better have a thick skin. They will vote against you because they don't like your kids, because your husband's best friend parked in their spot, your dog pooped in their yard... you get it.





I am not sure if I need a variance or not. The woman with the HOA told me that it wasn't against the rules if I will not cause a disturbance (with traffic, curb appeal, changes to the structure, and parking). I will get a copy of it and read it for myself.

Wow, I am not looking forward to a Town Hall meeting!! icon_cry.gif

tigachu Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 2:41am
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lita829

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

So tigachu, do you need a variance? You only need a "town hall" meeting if you are asking for something that violates the covenants.Get a copy of your covenants and read it for yourself. It may be in there and they don't want you to use it. HOA's can act like gods at times, telling you what you can and can't do. We have another piece of property a mile form us... my husband's office. We own three of the four commercial properties at the beginning of the subdivision. The HOA, after thirty years, decided to make the vacant lots pay dues at triple the rate. This was not in the deed. We are taking the HOA to court. When they finish paying our legal fees, there will be a serious dent in their funds. We do have lawyers. If you don't, READ THE COVENANTS YOURSELF. Get it from the courthouse, not them. Town hall meetings are not fun. You had better have a thick skin. They will vote against you because they don't like your kids, because your husband's best friend parked in their spot, your dog pooped in their yard... you get it.



Once again...you're right. I don't know anything about her town or neighbors, but they could object out of jealousy because they don't have the talent or drive to become an entrepeneur, out of pettiness, or just to be mean. This is good advice, spc1127, that I plan to take. Thank you for your knowledge.

Tigachu...check out this thread.
http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-715402-.html




I JUST LOVE CC!! icon_lol.gif Good luck to you, too Lita829!! It looks like we have some research and work to do to make this happen icon_cool.gif

I really appreciate the knowledge shared here thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 4:29am
post #24 of 24

You do not need a meeting if it is ok in the covenants. You just need to abide by the terms. Read carefully and don't let HOA's make their own rules. PM me with the wording whenever you get your hands on it. Go to City Hall when they aren't busy and ask them to help you look it up. I have been through this so many times.

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