Blaine council approves CUP for home business

The Blaine City Council Dec. 6 granted a conditional use permit (CUP) for a hardwood flooring business being run out of a home.

Above & Beyond Hardwood Flooring had been operating out of the home at 1520 130th Lane N.E. since 2005, according to business owners Carl and Kristy White, but a recent neighbor complaint made the city aware that there were city code violations.

Neighbor Jerry Lindgren sent a three-page letter addressed to the mayor and city councilmembers to voice his concerns which included work vehicles being parked at the property.

According to Lindgren, Blaine’s city code states that home businesses operating in residential zoning districts are permitted without a conditional use permit if several criteria are met including no exterior storage of any materials or business equipment, business cannot be conducted within the residential dwelling and cannot exceed 20 percent of the total floor area of the residence, no employment of persons not residing at the residence, less than four customers daily and no merchandise displayed for sale in the residence.

Lindgren said work vehicles have been parked out front and on unimproved areas, meaning not on a driveway.

According to Kristy White, who said in her written response to the city that they have been friends with this neighbor, but have had some issues over the past year, they have two work vans parked in their driveway. One work vehicle is driven by their son, who lives at the home. The other vehicle is driven by another employee who does not live at this Blaine home. He usually would drive his own vehicle to their home and leave it parked there while he takes out the work van.

Since the complaint was made, they now have their son pick up this other employee elsewhere so there is one less personal vehicle there, and they are parking their vehicles completely on the driveway, White wrote in her response.

Their son is looking for his own place and he would be taking a van with him when he moves so there would only be one work vehicle in the driveway, she wrote.

“We would love to be able to open a shop somewhere outside of our home,” White wrote. “But with this economy in the shape that it’s in, that just has not been possible.”

Community Development Director Bryan Schafer said the city requires vehicles to be entirely parked on a hard surface. A picture the council looked at showed a work van mostly parked on the grass with just part of one side parked on the driveway.

Councilmember Russ Herbst suggested that the council require the Whites to widen their driveway to accommodate the personal and work vehicles. Although one of the conditions staff already included in the council packet would have required the Whites to park all their vehicles on a hard surface, Herbst was concerned that without a wider driveway, they would end up parking in the street.

“I’m pro business, but the problem is you’re in a neighborhood. I want to find some way to support you on this,” Herbst said.

According to the Whites, they have been keeping their personal and work vehicles on the driveway since the complaint came up, but it is a tight fit. They were fine with widening their driveway.

On the other hand, Councilmember Dave Clark was opposed to putting this requirement in writing as a condition to the White’s home occupation CUP.

He did not want to see them tie up money on a new driveway if they want to invest in moving the business out of their home, Clark said.

“Let them make the decision,” he said.

The rest of the council supported the driveway widening requirement and said it must be done by the time city staff does the first annual inspection of the property a year from now.

Having a CUP also means the Whites can legally employ up to two people who do not live at the home, they can continue to use one of the bedrooms in their home for a home office and they can use up to one quarter of their garage for their business.

The Whites said they do not store any hardwood at their home, but there are sanding belts, wood stain and polyurethane taking up about one quarter of their garage for business purposes.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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