FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WV News) — At the Fairmont Planning Commission meeting later this month, city officials hope to pass an ordinance that would make it easier for small, home-based businesses to operate.
The city considers any business that operates from a person’s home — whether it be a tutor, baker, lawyer, architecture firm or something else — as a home-based business.
Fairmont Director of Planning Shae Strait said this new ordinance, if passed by the Planning Commission and then Fairmont City Council, will make it easier for home-based entrepreneurs to open and operate their businesses.
“It’s going to make it more fair for the different types of businesses who may want to run out of your home while still making sure that we protect our residential neighborhoods,” Strait said. “The reason the city wants to approach this right now is to make sure we can support small and home-based businesses coming out of the pandemic and to help make Fairmont more resilient and successful going forward for starting a new business. …
“Home-based businesses are often where many of our small businesses start and how they develop and figure out if they can be successful or not, so it’s important that we craft a set of contemporary regulations that supports that well.”
While Strait didn’t have a total of the number of home-based small businesses in Fairmont, he said the U.S. Small Business Administration believes that, out of the 31.7 million small businesses in the country, around half of them are home-based, and even more started out that way.
Strait said the city’s regulations regarding home-based businesses are too restrictive.
“As of right now, we regulate each of those by the different types of businesses you might be running out of your home,” Strait said.
“The regulations currently don’t work in a way that’s very fair for the different types of businesses that people may want to run out of their home, so we want to adjust that to where it’s even across the board for everybody and so that everybody, regardless of what type of business they run out of their home, has the same rules,” he said.
If the new ordinance passes, it would make the lives of home-based business owners easier in several regards, officials said.
“It should be more supportive of our citizens to try to be successful in their own right,” Strait said.
“It’ll streamline the process by eliminating a lot of unnecessary layers of reviews and questions around your business and make it very simple for you as a business owner to understand what you can and can’t do from your home. It should make it so that you feel more confident opening, operating and changing your business to meet your needs,” he said.
However, Strait said it’s important to the city to remain attentive to the needs of its residential neighborhoods, and the ordinance will also contain certain restrictions on home-based businesses so they don’t get out of hand.
“We’re going to make sure that we still restrict how many people may come to your home at a time,” Strait said. “We’re still going to limit the hours of operation in which customers may come over. We’re still going to regulate signage, and we’re going to limit certain uses from ever being allowed, such as vehicle repair.”
The Fairmont Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Fairmont Public Safety Building at 500 Quincy St.
If the Planning Commission passes the ordinance, it will then go to Fairmont City Council for review and passage at a later date.
Fairmont News Editor John Mark Shaver can be reached at 304-844-8485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.