To operate a business from your home, you must apply for a Home Occupation Permit and a Business License.
Home Occupation Permit
Individuals interested in operating a business from their home may apply for a Home Occupation Permit--a free application administered by the Department of Planning and Community Development.
Home occupations are allowed within every residential district in the City but have very specific requirements as to the types of businesses that are allowed to operate. The Zoning Ordinance defines a Home Occupation as:
Any occupation or activity which is clearly incidental to the use of the premises for dwelling purposes and which is carried on wholly within a main building or accessory building, other than business gardens as defined, by a member of a family residing on the premises, in connection with which there is no advertising on the premises, and no other display or storage or variation from the residential character of the premises, and in connection with which no person outside the family is employed and no equipment which is deemed to be in conflict with the intent of this definition. A home occupation shall not include beauty parlors, barber shops or doctors' offices for the treatment of patients. The foregoing notwithstanding, providing professional counseling services by appointment only for not more than ten (10) clients per week, and giving music lessons shall constitute home occupations.
A home occupation permit allows an individual to have a home-based business, where everything occurs within the house or an accessory structure. The only home occupation that can operate outside of a home or accessory structure is a business garden, which is defined as:
A home occupation, where areas of a parcel are managed and maintained by individuals residing on the same parcel or adjoining parcels under the same ownership, used to cultivate fruits, vegetables, herbs, or flowers for sale purposes. This definition does not include cultivation only for personal consumption or use. (See Article BB. Business Gardens [59KB] for operating regulations.)
In general, for all home occupations, no one should be able to tell the property is being used for anything other than a residential use as no advertising signs can be posted on the property; no customers—other than as permitted within the definition—can come to the property; no one that does not live on the property can be employed or work at the property, excessive deliveries atypical of a residential use should not occur; and no equipment shall be seen, noises heard, or odors smelled that is out of character from a residential use.
You may apply for a home occupation permit on-line via the Permitting Web Portal or in person at the Community Development Building Inspections Division, 409 South Main Street, 2nd floor, Harrisonburg, VA.
[165KB] Home Occupation Permit
All business and professional operations must obtain a business license before commencing operation in the city of Harrisonburg, including home based businesses. A business license is obtained at that Commissioner of the Revenue Office. For more information visit Commissioner of the Revenue.