Civic Association Newsletter

January/February 1997 - Volume 20, No. 4


The Economic Development Commission is studying the issue of permitting one or more non-residents to work at the site of a home-based business. Currently, only residents of the dwelling are allowed to work in the house for the home-based business. A subcommittee of the Economic Development Commission, after hearing from home-based business owners and reviewing materials prepared by staff, has developed draft recommendations which respond to issued raised by home-based business owners.

The Economics Development Commission's subcommittee is interested in the concerns, ideas and suggestions of other commissions related to home occupations. The draft recommendations have been discussed with the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, the Planning Commission, and the Transportation Commission. The subcommittee members will discuss the draft recommendations with the Arlington County Civic Federation, to be held on Tuesday, February 4, 1997, at the Arlington Hospital Til Hazel Conference Room, beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Economic Development Commission's Draft Resolution:

October 15, 1996

After reviewing the Zoning Ordinance as it pertains to home occupations and evaluating the comments received from home- based business owners, the Economic Development Commission recommends several modifications to the current Zoning Ordinance to accommodate non-resident employees at the site of a home occupation. The Economic Development Commission undertook this review at the request of home-based business owners, to foster economic growth in Arlington County, and to maintain competitiveness with other surrounding jurisdictions. This effort supports the Economic Development Action Plan (step 5f) which states "research possible ordinance changes that support appropriate modifications to home-based business use."

The Economic Development Commission supports and affirms many of the components of the Home Occupation Section of the Zoning Ordinance as it is currently written. For issues and code requirements not noted below, the Economic Development Commission recommends the current status. The focus of the Economic Development Commission's review of the Home Occupation Section of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 31 Special Provisions) was specific to the question of non-resident employees for home-based businesses. The Economic Development Commission did not take up the issues of telecommuting employees, home professional offices or home day care centers which are regulated separately.

The goal of this resolution is not to provide specific language changes to the Zoning Ordinance, but instead to provide direction and input into the process of amending the Zoning Ordinance. The Economic Development Commission strongly supports the following changes:

The Economics Development Commission would not support a sunset clause or a pilot project in regard to permitting one or more non-resident home-based business employees because of the hardship and uncertainty this would impose on the home- based business owners. At the time of the clause's expiration, home-based business owners would be forced to choose between two potentially harmful choices. The business owners would have to either terminate the non-resident on-site employees or move to commercial space prematurely. The Economic Development Commission finds a staff review of the consequences of any Zoning Ordinance amendments to be acceptable.



Home occupation. An occupation conducted as an accessory use in or from a residential dwelling or its accessory building by persons whose principal residence is on the premises which has no more effect on adjacent property than normal residential use. Home occupations include those uses as permitted and regulated in Section 31, subsection A.12. (1-7-81)


12. Home Occupation, as defined in Section 1, is permitted in dwelling units "R" and "RA" District regulations when such use is clearly subordinate or incidental to the principal use of the premises for dwelling purposes.

a. Home occupations which are conducted as limited by paragraph 12.c., below, and which have the general character of the following uses are permitted:

(1) Artist, photographer, sculptor.

(2) Author, composer, editor, translator, writer.

(3) Contractor or service business, provided that all requirements of this section are met as well as the following additional requirements:

(a) No employees, other than persons legally residing on the premises, shall report to work at an "R" or "RA" zoned location other than a work site;

(b) Not more than one (1) commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of no more than ten thousand (10,000) pounds shall be parked on the property and then only in accordance with applicable regulations of Section 31, subsection A.3, of this ordinance.

(c) No contracting equipment or materials shall be stored on the premises, except in a commercial vehicle used for transporting said equipment and materials between jobs, and no loading or unloading shall be done on or in the vicinity of the premises.

(4) Dressmaker, seamstress and tailor.

(5) Home crafts such a lapidary work, macrame, model making and weaving.

(6) Office of an ordained minister of religion.

(7) Office of an accountant, architect, bookkeeper, broker, clerical service, computer programmer, consultant, dentist, engineer, instructor in the arts and crafts, insurance agent, land surveyor, landscape architect, lawyer, musician, physician, real estate broker or telephone service.

(8) Office of a salesman, sales representative or manufacturers representative.

(9) Repair services, such a musical instruments, watches and clocks, small household appliances, and toys or models.

b. Home occupations not permitted include those with the general characteristics of the following:

(1) Amusement or dance parlor.

(2) Antique shop.

(3) Barber shop or beauty salon.

(4) Funeral home or chapel.

(5) Gift shop.

(6) Kennel or other boarding of animals.

(7) Medical or dental clinic, hospital, nursing home.

(8) Motor vehicle repair or sales.

(9) Nursery school

(10) Repair or testing of internal combustion engines.

(11) Restaurant or tearoom.

(12) Tourist home, boardinghouse, rooming house.

(13) Veterinary clinic or animal hospital.

c. Home occupation uses shall be subject to the following limitations. All limitations apply together. No limitation shall be interpreted as relaxing another limitation.

(1) There shall be no evidence on the exterior of the premises or visible from the exterior of the premises that the property is used in any way other than for a dwelling.

(2) There shall be no signs.

(3) There shall be no outside display, storage, or sale of merchandise or equipment.

(4) There shall be no audible noise, detectable vibration or odor beyond the confines of the subject dwelling or accessory building, including transmittal through vertical or horizontal party walls.

(5) There shall be no on-site employment or use of labor from persons who are not bona fide residents of the dwelling, except a disabled resident may employ assistance from one (1) person at a time who is not a resident and whose assistance is limited to overcoming the effect of the disability. A written statement identifying the person who will give the assistance, the kind of assistance that will be given and the time the person will be in the dwelling must be filed in the office of the zoning administrator as to each person permitted to be employed as an assistant to a disabled person before that person may be employed in the dwelling.

(6) Instruction of students (including delivery of materials clearly incidental to training) and service to clients or customers shall be limited to twelve (12) persons per day but in no event more than four (4) persons at any one time.

(7) The total floor area on the premises to be used for home occupation shall not exceed a figure calculated by taking twenty-five (25) percent of the total floor area of the principal dwelling on the premises, excluding attached garages. No more than two (2) percent of the total floor area of the principal dwelling or a maximum of twenty (20) cubic feet, whichever is less, shall be used for specified storage of stock-in-trade. The storage of hazardous materials is prohibited.

(8) There shall be no stocks-in-trade displayed or sold on the premises, except for those produced at the premises.

(9) The lot or property on which the home occupation is conducted shall not have any parking space added to it during the time the home occupation is being conducted; nor shall any parking space be used that was not customarily used prior to that time. The application for approval shall show a sketch of the parking spaces customarily in use at the time of application and agree that parking shall not be increased during the period the approval is in effect. During the period the approval is in effect, no motor vehicle shall be parked at any place on the lot or property not represented as a parking space on the sketch attached to the application.

(10) No equipment may be used on the premises other than that which is usual for purely domestic or hobby purposes, or what is usual for a small business, professional, or medical office.

d. Storage of specified stock-in-trade over two (2) percent.

Return to the January/February 1997 Newsletter-Index

The BVSCA Home Page