Houston commission changes home business ordinance to allow Internet brokering

bpurser@macon.comApril 1, 2014 

Houston County commissioners amended the comprehensive land development regulations to allow for residents to broker Internet sales as a home business through a special exception application. The move comes after an aircraft mechanic wanted to broker Jeep parts as extra income to help put his children through college. By BECKY PURSER/The Telegraph

THETELEGRAPHMIDGA

PERRY -- Shawn Smith, a 47-year-old aircraft mechanic at Robins Air Force Base, may have his home business serving as a middle man for after-market Jeep products after all.

Houston County commissioners approved Tuesday an amendment to the comprehensive land development regulations that defines a broker and allows operation of business from a home through the Internet. However, it prohibits conducting any business on site.

Smith, whose business would take orders online and then have the products shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer, was discouraged in February when his home business license wasn’t approved. He never expected anyone to have a problem with the business he’d worked months to start.

His situation led to a review of the regulations.

Although still a bit discouraged with having to wait a little longer, Smith said he understands government red tape and has been impressed with the leadership demonstrated by Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker and the other commissioners.

“It gives me more faith in the system that they would change the ordinance due to my case -- instead of the next person having to fight through the same thing,” Smith said.

The amendment went into effect immediately upon approval, said Tim Andrews, the county’s zoning and building administrator.

Because the amendment changes the rules, Smith will have to reapply and go through the application process again, Andrews said.

Smith had planned to work on that Tuesday afternoon.

The former regulations prohibited home sales unless the items were made or modified in the home.

The code was written before the explosion of the Internet. The intent was to keep people from operating a retail business from their home.

Smith said he plans to use the extra income to help put his two children through college rather than take a second job.

In other business, commissioners approved a host of special exemptions for other home businesses from a carpet cleaning service to a yard and home restoration venture to a mobile drug and alcohol testing business.

Also approved was a zoning exemption for a telecommunications tower sought by Providence Real Estate Consulting on the behalf of AT&T for wireless use. The tower is expected to be built on 148 acres near the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. A high-volume usage occurs during events at the fairgrounds, Andrews said.

Commissioners also gave the thumbs-up to rezoning 9.35 acres from residential-agriculture to manufacturing to Renfroe Construction on the behalf of Frito-Lay for a small expansion of a warehouse-type facility in the northeast corner of Ga. 246 and Oak Woods Drive in Kathleen. It would be located next to the existing plant.

Craig Hoffman, plant engineer, said nonessential machines would be moved from the main plant to the warehouse to free up space for future production lines of the kettle chip.

That type of chip is not now produced at the Kathleen plant, which employs about 1,600 people and is the largest of all Frito-Lay facilities, Hoffman said.

Shady Grove Baptist Church also received a special exemption to use its current facilities for a private school from kindergarten through the fifth grade.

Also, the county’s annual surplus auction was set for 10 a.m. May 15. Purchasing Agent Mark Baker said most of what’s up for sale are used vehicles and computers. For more information about the auction, call 478-218-4800.

Telegraph archives were used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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