by Andrew Getty
A common question that comes up each year in the Town of Webb Code Office is: When does someone cross the line of “just parking their dump truck” next to their home as compared to actually “operating a business out of their home”?
The very nature of our area is that there are many people who make a living working with their hands and their tools of the trade.
This can include the need of large pieces of heavy equipment, such as dump trucks, backhoes, excavators, graders, storage trailers, tow trucks, well drilling equipment, different kinds of service vehicles and huge low-boy type trailers to haul all their equipment around.
But when does the mere parking of this type of equipment actually constitute the operation of a commercial activity that should otherwise be automatically permitted, subject to approval of the Planning Board or just simply prohibited altogether?
First, the following things must be determined:
The property Zoning District Classification needs to be determined.
In any “R” (Residential) district the activity of parking may automatically constitute a business.
If in any “C” (Commercial) district, a Conditional Use Permit may be required from the Planning Board.
How many pieces of heavy equipment are there at any one time? This includes any type of trailer used for hauling heavy equipment.
When did the parking begin, before or after the ordinance? Is it grandfathered?
Are there any other activities on the property such as repairs, maintenance or servicing of the equipment? Regardless as to whether or not such servicing is being done for profit or just for the equipment owned by the property owner.
Is there other activity on the property, such as an office, sales area, storage of materials for work conducted off the property, employee parking or anything directly in relation to the use and need of the heavy equipment?
Keeping in mind all Residential Zoning Districts are the most restrictive regarding the storage or parking of heavy equipment, no matter where or how remote the location may seem.
Throughout the town there are numerous “R” Districts including Residential Village (RV), Residential Seasonal (RS), RS-1, RS-2 and Residential Rural (RR).
Other non-commercial Zoning Districts include: Open Space (OS), Conservation Overlay (CO), Wilderness (W), Wild Forest (WF), Intensive Use (I) and three different Planned District designations of residential, recreational and commercial or any combination thereof approved by the Planning Board.
By definition in the Town Ordinance:
HEAVY EQUIPMENT SALES, STORAGE: A commercial use involving sale, storage, rental or servicing of heavy equipment, vehicles and machinery typically associated with construction activity, agriculture or large load highway hauling and trailering.
Three (3) or more such items of equipment or vehicles located on a property at the same time shall constitute such use.
These regulations were written to acknowledge the working man who drives his dump truck, with trailer, home for the night, then takes it back to the job in the morning.
But they were also written to restrict a property from becoming something more than a home, like running a full scale construction business from the house and/or garage in an area not appropriate.
Addi-tionally, a “Home Occupation” shall NOT include any type of heavy equipment parking.