Home occupations encourage variety of businesses

By Katie Demeria

STRASBURG — Some in Shenandoah County are taking advantage of their ability to operate businesses out of their homes, an option that cuts down on costs and increases convenience.

Doran Richards of Blessing God’s Way operates her business as a home occupation, according to Strasburg’s economic development and planning manager, Kimberly Murray.

“Home occupations are a really nice way to incorporate a very small business in a residential area,” Murray said.

For Richards, it works well. A midwife, Richards assists with home births and will travel up to an hour away from her 460 Orchard St. location to be there for the birth. But some clients prefer using the cottage she built on her home property to go through labor.

She lives in the house directly next to the cottage where she runs the business and sees women for their monthly appointments leading up to, then following, their births.

“It’s huge, really,” she said. “It helps separate work and home life, which has been beneficial for me, since I have six children who are still living at home.”

Murray pointed out that home businesses encourage small businesses in the community, so long as they do not disturb residential neighborhoods. The town has had two additional requests for them since July, and a few more last year.

The businesses do have performance standards by which they must abide, Murray added.

“They’re meant to protect the residential area from some of the effects of commercial use, like traffic and noise,” she said.

These businesses are not meant to be retail shops, which encourage people to visit frequently, for example. Anything that would disrupt the area, such as construction or heavy equipment, are prohibited, as well as are animal hospitals.

“In Ms. Richards’ case, she wants to just keep doing what she’s doing, rather than growing the home business,” Murray pointed out. “If you want to add more clients or employees, for example, we would want to put you in a commercial area.”

The set-up allows for a diversity of businesses, she added.

“It’s nice to have a variety of services in our community, and I think there’s a need in our area, as there are probably families that would like to make use of a midwife and have that kind of option,” Murray said.

It allows individuals who may have some extra space in their garage or an extra bedroom to get started and hopefully add more to the local economy, she added.

Murray said the department is encouraging people running home occupations to get permits, because there are some out there that do not have them, she said. They cost $30.

To learn more about starting a home business, visit the following websites:

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com