Passionate testimony at a Meridian City Council meeting this week. The issue? Residents operating businesses out of their homes and how it affects their neighbors.
Several proposed rules up for debate sparked controversy with people who sell Scentsy, a wickless candle, out of home-based parties.
At first it may sound odd that having a Scentsy party, much like a Tupperware party, would be a problem.
But after speaking with Meridian's City Attorney, Bill Nary, he says the intent of these new regulations are about setting a uniform standard that residents running a business out of their home, whether it’s selling clothes, candles, or even auto repair, have to follow and has little impact on the neighborhood.
For months, Meridian's planning and zoning, and legal departments have been working on new regulations for residents running store-like operations out of their homes because of complaints of how they impact the neighborhood.
One of those is garage-based clothing stores.
“We have had other concerns about people repairing cars and painting cars in their garage, outing vinyl wraps on cars, people giving lessons with a large queuing of parents and students waiting for whether its music lessons or something else. It’s bringing cars a lot of people, people coming and going, noise at all hours of the day and night,” says Nary.
Two initial rules proposed by the council included limiting the number of sellers and buyers in a home at one time to just two people.
And limiting sales in multi-family dwelling units.
Eric Ritter, an attorney for Scentsy, says the company has 216 representatives in Meridian and took issue with this.
“Having a limitation on just two clients isn’t feasible for our consultants if they are having a home-based party, they are going to have 10 or 15 people there," says Ritter. "We have concerns about prohibition on clients being able to participate in a multi-family dwelling, I look at this as a regressive tax, if you are in the lower income bracket you are more likely to live in a multi dwelling, if you happen to be a Scentsy consultant in that dwelling you can’t ever have a Scentsy party in your house.”
Carolyn Smith, a Scentsy consultant for the past eight years said these new rules would devastate her financially.
“I am disabled even though I don’t look like I am, working from home gives me the ability to stay off disability and contribute to this community,” says Smith.
A work session is set for November where stakeholders will take public testimony into consideration and discuss new rules.
“We're going to have a working group made up of both city staff and stakeholders of people that run home-based businesses to allow that dialogue to happen and find what would make the most sense in creating some sideboard of this operation,” says Nary.
Nary said that Scentsy consultants hosting parties at someone else's house where there is 10 to 15 people is no problem because it happens less often and the city is not trying to regulate that.