Work-at-home jobs were on the minds of several county residents who attended a public hearing yesterday on proposed changes to county zoning regulations that deal with cottage industries, junkyards and rubble landfills.
Citizens were concerned that a plan to allow cottage industries under the county's zoning regulations would be inconsistent with other allowed business uses.
"You should use the definition for cottage industries for all home businesses," said Elridge Fisher. "You could have an interesting court case on your hands if you're not more specific."
The proposed zoning change would allow cottage industries -- businesses in a home that only employ one person who is a non-resident there -- as a conditional use requiring approval from the county zoning board.
Under current county law, businesses that employ only resident family members are allowed as home occupations. They do not usually require zoning board approval. A home business cannot generate more traffic, parking, water or sewer than a residence.
Fisher's concern was that commercial enterprises like country inns and beauty shops are conditional uses within residential areas, even though they could create more traffic, parking and water use.
"Someone is going to wonder why other people are allowed to have a business and he is not," he said.
Doris Edwards, who runs a craft business out of her home, was also concerned about the ordinance's lack of clarity.
"Someone should be able to go to the library, look up the zoning ordinance and decide if it applies to them," she said. "There's got to be a clear distinction between [a cottage industry and a home occupation]."
Residents also were concerned that there was no provision for hazardous substances.
"Most of Carroll County depends on well water," said Betty Fisher. "A business like home photography development could have substances that are potentially dangerous which could run into the septic system and make it break down sooner."
Her husband, Elridge, agreed.
"You could create electronic [circuit] boards in your basement and no one would know," he said. "But the substances used to clean them are very hazardous."
A final draft of the ordinance will be ready after the county commissioners decide how to address these citizen concerns, said Charles W. Thompson Jr., county attorney.