Nashville enterprise regulation must be up to date by the Metro Council

Did you know it’s illegal to teach a child math or science in your home? Or that it is illegal to invite a student to a music lesson? Or that it is forbidden by law to have a customer hand in papers at your doorstep?

As crazy as it sounds, Nashville’s business laws forbid this type of activity in Davidson County.

Also, did you know that as a graphic designer working alone on your computer, you have to mark up a schematic of your house, take it to the code department, stand in line, and get a permit? in order to?

Again, our business laws say you must.

Not too many decades ago, property across Davidson County was reallocated with little or no community involvement. At the same time, our home business laws have been rewritten to allow people to work for themselves from home, but only under very special conditions that are not enough to protect neighborhoods or encourage entrepreneurs.

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Fast forward to today. Nashvillians have spent much of the year at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraged when they don’t have to work from home. Companies that only need a computer are far more common, and more and more people have set up small side businesses that bake or manufacture jewelry. Yet these laws still stand in the way of the Nashvillians’ right to make ends meet legally.

A movement to change

There is good news, however: Metro Council is just one step away from fixing this relic and bringing victory to parents looking for opportunities for their children to be enriched. You fight with Nashvillians who have to earn a little more money on the side, and the budding entrepreneur who wants to start a small business in his house but cannot afford astronomical commercial rents.

BL2019-48 was launched last November and has since seen four public hearings, as well as nationwide town halls, at least a half-dozen committee discussions and workshops, and contributions from across the county. A number of changes to the proposal resulted in a strong, balanced bill that will benefit both neighborhoods and residents.

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This private company modernization bill allows a small number of customers to visit a private company – no more than three in an hour or six in a day – and only by appointment, during the day, on certain days of the week and only for certain purposes: more personal Education, general office, personal care, multimedia production, or craft production.

Built-in protection

At the same time, it does more to protect the neighborhoods where home businesses have always operated. For example the business:

  • must occur in less than 20 percent of the place of residence;
  • must not be accompanied by noise, signage or changes in the residential character of the house or property; and
  • can only be operated by a full-time resident of the house.

This carefully crafted proposal will continue to ban uses such as retail, dining, or car repairs in residential areas, and will guarantee that any residential property remains primarily a home for one or more Nashvillians. And in a way that gives our residents greater opportunities.

This is an exciting and long overdue update. With the overwhelming support from the community, I look forward to our Metro Council giving final approval on Tuesday evening. Thanks to everyone who voted to improve this bill – your efforts will make a world of difference.

Dave Rosenberg represents District 35 on the Metro Council.

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