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Bill moving through legislature would reduce restrictions on home-based businesses

In many cases, the amount of business inventory or goods in a home can be legally limited in areas zoned residential.
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 10:18 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A bill is moving through the Mississippi legislature designed to create more opportunities for home-based businesses.

Before his time on the State House Floor, Rep. Jansen Owen from Poplarville was a student trying to make it through law school. To help pay the bills, Owen’s wife ran an online boutique out of their home.

“Over 50% of my house was always filled up with clothes and inventory,” said Owen.

In many cases, the amount of business inventory or goods in a home can be legally limited in areas zoned residential. So Owen introduced the “Home-Based Opportunity Freedom Act of 2022.”

“I want to make sure that these people who are starting businesses within their home, as long as they’re not hurting the people around them, that the city and governments leave them alone,” Owen said.

Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel’s job is to enforce city ordinances. He said under home occupation, businesses are allowed to operate out of homes within reason.

“There can’t be anything there that would change the residential character of the neighborhood,” Creel said. “Any neighbors looking on wouldn’t notice that there was anything of a commercial nature going on there.”

Even though Owen’s bill says “A local unit of government shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance or regulation that restricts a particular home-based occupation or activity or impose a burden on home-based work,” Owen doesn’t want local ordinances to be abandoned.

“It’s not my intention to come in and say that a city can’t control the noise coming from a neighborhood or can’t control foot traffic,” Owen said. “Those are common-sense regulations that you have to impose to protect the community as a whole.”

If signed into law, Creel doesn’t believe the legislation will open the door for wide-scale businesses to operate in residential neighborhoods.

“The House Bill 917 and the home occupation are very similar in what they allow to operate out of a single-family home,” Creel said. “I think this gives them (home businesses) a little more flexibility so that they can have some storage on the property and maybe take some orders from people and package certain things together and mail it out. I don’t see that as being a problem.”

The Home Based Opportunity Freedom Act did pass out of the House and is being considered in the Senate.

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