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Starting a Home Enterprise

Large areas of Bloomington are designated for residential purposes. Generally, people living in residential areas expect the residential character of their neighborhood and the visual amenities to be protected from intrusion by commercial businesses. However, under certain circumstances, the Zoning Ordinance allows a small-scale business to be carried out in a residential dwelling. Such a business, which is called a "Home Enterprise," may only be carried out by a resident of the dwelling and must not cause a nuisance to neighbors. Home Enterprises must comply with standards specified in the Zoning Ordinance.

Home Enterprises cover a wide range of activities such as desk and telephone operations for a mail order business, crafts like silk plants and ceramics, or personal services like individual piano lessons.

Major/minor Home Enterprises

There are two types of Home Enterprises: Home Occupations (minor) and Home Businesses (major). Under the Bloomington Zoning Ordinance, Home Occupations and Home Businesses are defined as follows:

Home Occupations are those gainful occupations or professions, engaged in within a dwelling unit on the premises by an occupant of the dwelling unit as a use that is clearly incidental to the principal use of the dwelling unit. These incidental uses cannot endanger the health, safety or welfare of other persons residing in the area by reason of blight, noise, smoke, dust, odor, glare, vibration, increased vehicular traffic, unsanitary or unsightly conditions, fire hazard or similar conditions that have a reasonable likelihood of disturbing the peace, comfort, repose or quiet enjoyment of the indoor and outdoor spaces of neighboring residential properties. Home Occupations, where allowed in the applicable zoning district, may be allowed as an accessory use subject to the performance standards in Section 19.63.09(a)(2) of the Bloomington Zoning Ordinance.

Home Businesses, where allowed in the applicable zoning district, may be allowed ONLY as a conditional use, and is subject to different performance standards in Section 19.63.09(b)(3) of the Zoning Ordinance.

No Home Occupation or Home Business shall include:

  • Unlicensed massage or escort businesses.
  • Automotive and recreation vehicle sales, rental, storage, service or repairs.
  • Painting or repair of motor vehicles or boats.
  • The sale, lease or trade of firearms or ammunition.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Taxidermy.

The following table indicates the items that would classify a Home Enterprise as a Home Occupation or a Home Business:

Application procedure

No application is required for a Home Occupation (though a business license may be required).

Home Businesses require materials to be submitted for a Conditional Use Permit including:

  • A completed development application form (obtainable from the Planning Division);
  • A site plan laying out the location of the business in conjunction with the home and the lot;
  • A completed letter giving details of the proposed Home Business;
  • Payment of a one time application fee;
  • A Home Business Conditional Use Permit is not transferable. For example, if you move then you will need to apply for a new permit.

Fees

A fee is required for all Home Business Conditional Use applications. A schedule of fees is available from the Planning Division. If a Conditional Use Permit is denied, the fee is not refundable.

How long does it take until the permit is issued?

It usually takes a minimum of 4 weeks for a Home Business Conditional Use Permit to go through the process.

What factors are taken into account in deciding on an application?

Because commercial uses are not usually allowed in residential areas, it is important that Home Enterprises do not disturb the residential character of an area. The ideal test of a Home Enterprise is whether the neighbors would be aware of its existence.

Some factors that can draw attention to Home Enterprises include the following:

  • Advertising or signage on the property.
  • Noise, dust, smell, or smoke generated by the Home Enterprise.
  • Customers or business contacts visiting the home.
  • Delivery/collection of products.
  • Parking on adjacent streets or lanes.
  • Employees who are not residents of the dwelling.
  • Storage of equipment or materials in the open.
  • Vehicles identifying the business parked in the street or driveway.

Business license

Business licenses may also be required for Home Enterprises. Please call City Licensing at 952-563-8728 for further information.

Background information

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