It took seven drafts - eight counting the final - but the long-awaited Small Business Overlay Zone was okayed last Tuesday by the County Planning Commission and is on its way to the County Commission for final approval.
The new zoning concept does not replace any of the county's existing zones. It simply lays over the existing Rural Residential and Residental Agricultural zones from one twenty acres. It is intended to allow small businesses to expand by constructing or using outbuildings on lots larger than two acres.
Planners saw a need to encourage the growth of small, family businesses by enabling hiring up to four additional employees. In this way, these mom-and-pops can keep modest expansion close to home without having to move into industrial or commercial zones.
There are plenty of regulations written into the new zone to safeguard the character of existing neighborhoods. An ore-smelting operation is not going to get a license, for example, but a small group of architects would likely be a shoo-in.
To qualify, a lot would need a minimum of two acres. The business would have to meet all requirements for sanitary facilities, water and utility service, road access and road standards.
In addition, all business must be conducted indoors.