Dubuque County residents now have more freedom to start certain small businesses in their homes.

Dubuque County supervisors on Monday approved a home-based business ordinance establishing a $100 permit that allows a host of businesses to legally operate on property zoned for agricultural or residential use.

However the permits carry strict guidelines to avoid anything that could be a nuisance for neighbors.

“We tried to keep it so for all intents and purposes, you don’t even know what’s going on there (with the business),” said Jerry Sigwarth, a member of the county’s Zoning Commission.

Permit guidelines don’t allow businesses to operate within 500 feet of a neighboring residence, unless the neighbor gives approval. The business also can’t take up more than 25 percent of the floor area of a house or more than 2,400 square feet of an accessory building.

Businesses can have one 6 square-foot sign that can’t have lighting.

Some of the allowed businesses include catering, event planning, insurance, photography and vehicle repair. On-premise retail stores and adult entertainment specifically are excluded from the permit.

Business owners must reside on site, and the companies can’t have more than four nonresident employees, more than four parking spaces or any outside storage. There can be no odor, noise or dust.

Supervisor Chairman Jay Wickham said the new permit process will be very appealing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

“I see it from a demand issue,” he said. “I think the community has been wanting this.”

Sigwarth said he’s heard from a lot of people who like the permit idea. He noted this also is a way to bring people who are already operating such businesses without public complaints into good standing.

“We all know there’s illegal businesses out there (that aren’t complying with zoning),” Sigwarth said.

Rob Trilk said his sons make skateboards and do metal fabrication work at their rural Peosta home. They didn’t realize they weren’t in compliance with zoning.

Donald Bries, of Guttenberg, said his son bought a farmstead near Luxemburg and hopes to one day open his own automotive shop there. He thought the permit would be a way for that to happen.

Wickham and Supervisors Daryl Klein and Dave Baker agreed that allowing more home-based businesses will be good for a lot of county residents.

“I do believe this is a positive move,” Klein said.

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