In trying to set clear standards for in-home businesses like Scentsy and LuLaRoe, the Meridian City Council got pushback Tuesday evening from the sellers it would regulate — who said the proposed changes could endanger their ability to do their jobs.
The public hearing on changes to the city’s Unified Development Code came amid a busy meeting before a packed crowd. Council members said they didn’t intend to cause problems for companies that rely on direct sales at home parties, and Councilman Luke Cavener proposed the council take more public testimony at a Nov. 14 workshop after the city consults with stakeholders.
“I don’t think any of this was intended to not be business-friendly,” Councilwoman Anne Little Roberts said.
Caleb Hood, Meridian planning division manager, said the city was attempting to create standards for the entire range of home businesses — from those that sell products just occasionally, to vehicle repair or construction companies that could be more disruptive. The city would be able to cite people who wrongfully run businesses, he said.
Around 25 people signed up in opposition to the ordinance change, but most did not testify.
Critics included Eric Ritter, general counsel for Scentsy, the scented-candle company whose headquarters campus sits along Eagle Road and which has more than 200 independent sales consultants in Meridian. He said one provision limiting the number of customers allowed in a home wouldn’t be feasible for Scentsy consultants.
Others in attendance expressed concern about whether they would need to purchase a business license to host an open house.
“Working from home allows me the ability to stay off of disability and contribute to this community,” Carolyn Smith, a Scentsy consultant, told the council.
Ritter noted the city already has noise and parking ordinances that authorities can enforce. And fire code addresses how many people should occupy a home, he said.
The home-business standards are part of a broader set of proposed changes. Meridian would also formally define what a distillery, brewery and winery are, and the differences among restaurants, bars, and retail wine or beer businesses.
That goal is to help establish the appropriate zoning for businesses that primarily make alcohol, businesses that primarily sell alcohol for consumers to bring home, and businesses that primarily serve alcohol at their locations. The proposal includes specifications on how a business that occasionally has a beer or wine tasting is not the same thing as a “drinking establishment,” commonly referred to as a bar.