Councilman wants change in home business code

A Guilderland Town Board member wants to change the town's code regarding home businesses after he applies, and receives, his own permit to run a customary home occupation.

Councilman Mark Grimm will appear before the planning board on Wednesday, Sept. 10, to request a permit to operate his communications consulting business, Mark Grimm Communications, out of his home.

Grimm said he is applying for the permit even though he doesn't believe he needs one.

I don't think I did anything wrong, Grimm said, referring to a July 11, anonymous tip that was left with the town's zoning enforcement officer, Roger Stone, claiming Grimm did not have a permit to run his business out of his home.

Grimm said he wants to change the town code to eliminate any ambiguity about what a home business is, and make it so people who only use the phone and Internet to conduct their business, like he does, do not need permits.

He also wants to change the town code, and move away from a "tip-only," style of enforcement.

Grimm said using a "tip-only" system leads to "retaliatory" actions between neighbors.

Other town officials disagree with Grimm's assessment of the situation.

"He's trying to make excuses for violating the law," said Town Supervisor Ken Runion. "A great number of [Grimm's] comments have no basis in fact whatsoever. I think most people who are operating customary home occupations out of their home apply for a permit."

Grimm estimates that currently there are more than 1,600 Guilderland home businesses operating without a permit.

He arrived at the number by using statistics complied by the United States Small Business Administration and the United States Census Bureau that state 12.5 percent of U.S. homes have businesses in them, and there are 13,422 homes in Guilderland.

Grimm said that the 2000 Census lists only 500 home businesses in Guilderland, but that number is outdated and subject to people not reporting their businesses. He also said the statistics were compiled and the town's code was written before Internet use exploded.

He said that many people simply use their home phones and e-mail to conduct a business, and they should not need a special permit to do so.""

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