Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recording studios as a home occupation

The Tennessean this morning had an article on that wonderful zoning concept known as home occupations. Zoning regulations for the most part regulate the principal uses of property, but there are many accepted “accessory” uses which are often associated with the principal use. For example, a single-family home in a zoning district which permits single-family residences is a principal use, but there may be many other accessory uses, such as a garage for parking the cars, tennis courts and swimming pools for recreational use and so forth. Note that these accessory uses, if they were the principal use would probably not be permitted: for example, if the swimming pool was on the property without a home, and admission was charged, it would be a commercial use and prohibited in the residential district. But if it is accessory to the use of a home by the occupants of the home, it is permitted in the residential zoning district.

A large category of these kinds of uses are known as home occupations. Many zoning regulations have restrictions on the types of home occupations which are permitted. Metro’s regulations prohibit more than one employee not living in the home, and no clients or patrons may be served on site. MetZo §17.16.250 (D). Unfortunately, this means that home recording studios, frequently desired by musicians, are likely illegal. Generally, while one or two of the musicians may live in the home, usually a number of others will have to come to the home to participate in the recording session. That is illegal under the current provisions of the code. Megan Barry, an at-large member of the Council, has proposed a new amendment which would specifically permit an accessory use to be called “home recording studio.” As many as 10 musicians would be permitted on a daily basis with off-street parking provided on-site. The recording studio would be subject to the noise restrictions already adopted.

Certainly, with the increasing numbers of people working at home, this type of flexibility is highly to be desired. Modern technology makes it much easier for many people to work from their homes, cutting down on traffic, helping the environment, and saving fuel. So long as there is a minimal disturbance on the surrounding neighbors, it would seem that these home occupations are generally a good thing.

The bill, pending in the Metro Council now, is 2012-292; it may be reviewed here.

We wrote about bee hives in residential neighborhoods a few weeks ago, and beekeeping might be viewed as a home occupation as well, accessory to the residential use. The question comes down to, as always, the impact on the neighborhood. If the home occupation disrupts of inconveniences the neighbors, it's not likely to be favorably viewed or permitted to stay.

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