When you are setting up your home business in Ohio, you may have a list of things you need to take care of. Licensing, permits, supplies, insurance and bank accounts are only a few things that will get you started on your new venture. You will also need practical items, such as a place in your home reserved for your business and appropriate ways to advertise your product or service.

As you work to set up your home business, you may not stop to consider the zoning laws in your neighborhood. While it may seem like another battle with legal red tape, knowing and abiding by the zoning laws can save you significant trouble since violations can lead to fines, lawsuits and, in extreme cases, criminal charges.

What is the purpose of zoning?

Cities and towns create zones so that those who own property can have some assurance that their property values will not decrease. Homeowners, for example, may see the drop in their home value or be unable to sell a home if a sewage plant goes up across the street or a neighboring business erects a flashing neon sign. Through zoning laws, businesses, farms, residential properties and industrial operations have their own areas. Even a home business may violate zoning laws if you do any of the following, for example:

  • Build a new structure on your property without checking for setback distances and other restrictions
  • Construct a building in a flood zone
  • Construct a home-office building that violates size and height restrictions
  • Misuse a building that is zoned as historical
  • Use your residence for a commercial venture

This last item may be especially important if your business requires your customers or clients to come to you or if you receive deliveries or pickups from large commercial vehicles. Zoning regulations may require you to provide adequate parking, including handicap access, as well as restricting the kind of signage and advertising you can place around your home.

Before you move forward with plans to open a home business, you will want to learn about the zoning laws for your areas. If your business violates these laws, you may have grounds for seeking a variance or permit that will allow you to operate from your home or property. Seeking advice from an attorney who knows local zoning laws can provide you with the information you need to make a prudent decision.