Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oh, Development Permit, How Do I Love thee? Let Me Count the Ways.

The majority of small, home based businesses do not bother to obtain development permits.  In the town of Lunenburg, any home based business other than a home office is supposed to have one.  The permit itself is actually free, but still, most people ignore this step.

Back in May,  I stood in front of the Planning Advisory Committee and tried to explain why home based businesses in the residential zones are not commercial occupancies, but are considered to be a part of the main residential use.  I remember Councillor McGee saying, Anna, just run your business.  Nobody is stopping you.  His point was that there are hidden home based businesses throughout town, even in his own home and despite these businesses being underground, nobody is trying to shut them down.

But here's the thing-  It happens and it actually happens a lot.  You might just end up with a neighbour that decides they don't like you  and then when three beautiful ladies come all the way from Yarmouth to do some Christmas shopping in Lunenburg and then commit the cardinal sin of turning around in these people's driveway, they might run outside and be most unwelcoming to these visitors.  So unfortunate, but it is a sad reality of life.  We have all met these sorts of people.

Without a development permit, those sorts of neighbours can stop people from making a living.  I know of other stories like this in Lunenburg.  There is a woodworker whose neighbour is retired and has created a large file on this man.  He stands in his yard and takes photographs of every step he takes.  Particularly creepy when you have children.   No development permit, no rights.
Yes development permit, no worries.

Just go ahead and run your business is not a healthy  economic development strategy for any place, but particularly not for rural Nova Scotia, where we desperately need entrepreneurs.  Good policies and bylaws and the business owners bothering to obtain the proper permits is the only way to bypass nasty attitudes.  We can not change people, but we can ensure that the rights of entrepreneurs are protected.
Want my advice?  If you run a home based business, it does not matter if it is part time or full time, if people occasionally come to your home because you make hats or whether you have a mail order business making whittled Santas, go get yourself a development permit.  You are supposed to have one.   You will be protected. I love mine.

And to these three wonderful ladies who drove all the way from Yarmouth to support Lunenburg....It was so great to meet you.  Enjoy your hats and thank you for coming.  We are mostly nice here.

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