St. Charles Parish Council is considering an ordinance that would make it easier to get a home occupational permit. That could be good or bad.
At the present time, a person who wants to operate a small business out of his home zoned residential must go through the planning and zoning commission and the council for approval. This takes time, up to 10 weeks which is the reason for efforts to make it easier.
The new measure would allow the permit to be granted by the planning and zoning director, subject to approval by only the council. It would by-pass the commission which, in the past, has taken great effort to study such applications in detail to prevent disturbing activities from taking place in residential areas.
This is not to say the director and council will not use good judgment in the matter. But running it through the commission whose duty is to separate residential, commercial and industrial activities gives us an extra measure of protection.
Even at the present time, there are many cases of violation of the regulations for home occupational permits. Work that is allowed to be conducted within homes is often carried on outdoors. In many cases, commercial vehicles and equipment are seen in residential driveways.
Perhaps residents are reluctant to report such violations to authorities for fear of offending their neighbors. And they really should not have to if they are living in an area zoned residential.
Conducting business at home is more common since Hurricane Katrina changed the make-up of our workforce and many work places cannot be used as before. Making it easier to get home occupational permits is beneficial in that respect.
We must be sure that in changing the method of getting them will not turn residential neighborhoods into semi-commercial areas.
Because of our zoning laws, St. Charles Parish has been a pleasant place to live and work. We must keep it that way.