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Polk approves home occupations II and vacation rentals

Polk County residents can now have an additional building to conduct a home business and rent out property for vacations.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Aug. 5 and approved the new uses of customary home occupations II and vacation rentals in the county’s zoning ordinance for the Multiple Use (MU), Equestrian (E) and Agriculture Residential (AR5) Districts.

Commissioners approved the new uses unanimously following a public hearing where no residents made comments.

Commissioners also made changes to the draft home occupations II ordinance approved by its planning board.

Commissioner Tom Pack asked where the planning board came up with a 2,500 square foot building allowed for home occupations II. County planner Cathy Ruth said the planning board based that number on the size of a garage. Pack said he thinks the county could go up to 4,000 or 5,000 square feet to give a little more room.

An accessory building is allowed for the home occupations II on parcels that are at least one acre in size.

Commissioners agreed to allow a 2,500 square foot building on one and ½ acres or less and to allow an up to 4,000 square foot building on anything greater than one and ½ acres.

Commissioners also decided to change the planning board’s recommendation of allowing one non-resident employee for the home occupations II to allowing up to four non-resident employees.

The increase in employees allowed triggered commissioners to discuss parking for home occupations II. Commissioners said depending on the type of business, a lot of parking may not be necessary.

Pack said he is questioning parking requirements because he wants to make sure the county doesn’t make it a burden on residents but at the same time wants to make sure they have enough spaces.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said it’s going to vary depending on the nature of the business.

“You may have a 4,000 square foot building and only two to three employees and they might not need them [parking spaces],” Gasperson said.

County attorney Jana Berg said residents could have anything from a real estate office at their home to a consignment shop. She recommended commissioners allow her and Ruth to revisit the parking issue and tailor it to particular businesses.

On vacation rentals, the county’s former zoning ordinance didn’t allow transient living so the new ordinance puts a definition in the county’s ordinance.

The vacation rental use must be registered with the county’s travel and tourism department because there is a required occupancy tax for renting out a building on a short-term basis for more than two weeks in a given year.

The county formerly allowed home occupations, which will now be referred to as home occupations I under its zoning ordinance, which only allows a home business inside a residence.