Talk with others about the cottage food industry in Virginia
Zoning Variance in HOA?
- February 13, 2023 at 8:25 pm #109978
Has anyone successfully received a zoning variance for a CFO within their HOA? CfO would operate as delivery only, so there would be no increased traffic in the neighborhood. Also, all lots in the HOA are at least 3-5 acres, so no neighbors can be seen from my home. Any tips for working with the HOA and/or Zoning Board? I’m assuming I will need a variance approved by the HOA before approaching the Zoning office for approval. Seems like all CFOs operate out of a home, therefore would be in a residential zone, so this certification step seems illogical. Thanks for any help!February 19, 2023 at 4:03 am #110363
Who is requesting that you get a zoning variance? Is it your city/county to approve a general business license? Or is it your HOA? Considering the nature of the lots in your HOA and your plan to be delivery only, I would be surprised if the HOA board disallowed your business, even if there’s something in the CCRs saying you can’t run a home business. If it were me, I don’t think I’d even mention it to them. It would be different if you lived in an HOA with homes close together.February 22, 2023 at 10:45 am #110620
Hi David, Thanks for responding. I have a lot of interest from retail shops interested in purchasing my baked goods. So I have been looking into becoming a certified CFO in the state of VA. Part of the application process requires that I include written zoning approval, which would come from the County of Middlesex. I had a brief conversation with the gentleman in charge of zoning about this when I added a second electrical service to our property. He immediately stated that the property could not be zoned for a bakery, even a CFO, because it was in a residential neighborhood/HOA. He then told me to submit my request in writing and he would be able to get back to me with a formal decision. I did not want to continue the discussion with the zoning department without more information, so I have not pursued it further… yet.
I was hoping that someone on the forum had already tackled this hurdle, and would be able to provide some guidance. Perhaps now is the time to seek legal counsel? With the Institute for Justice that appears to handle these types of cases? Or do I begin the process with local zoning unarmed, then have to followup with reinforcements?
Any insight/help is appreciated.February 22, 2023 at 10:57 am #110623
As an addendum to the above post. As I understand it, Certification of a Home Food Processing Operation in the State of Virginia requires inspection by the Virginia Dept of Agriculture & Consumers Services (VDACS), which is different than inspection to become a commercial food business by the local health department.March 4, 2023 at 12:41 am #111061
I see now. Have you contacted the ag dept to verify that they do, in fact, permit home food processing establishments? The law is there in theory, but I still have yet to see one implemented. I know a number of counties don’t allow them at all.
So if they will allow one with zoning approval, then I think it’s just a matter of education for the zoning board. Of course the entire point of having the home food processing establishment law is to allow these types of businesses in residential zones. You are correct that that type of business is separate from a commercial food business. However, it’s usually possible to have a commercial kitchen permitted on a residential property, especially one the size of yours. So the difference really shouldn’t matter from a zoning perspective. The difference in the eyes of the ag dept is that the former allows you to use your home kitchen, while the latter requires you to build a separate kitchen.
The person in charge of zoning probably hasn’t dealt with this before. He’s correct that a traditional bakery wouldn’t be allowed in a residential zone. That’s what he’s familiar with so his response makes sense. But if you understand what the zoning board cares about, it should be quite doable to get them to realize that you actually should be allowed to receive a zoning variance. They want to make sure that your business doesn’t make a residential zone start to feel like a commercial one. Since you are mainly looking into wholesale accounts, you can specify that you either won’t have customers coming to your property, or specify limits on how many customers you will allow per day. Both restrictions are commonly found in laws and ordinances across the country, and work well to meet the needs of both zoning boards and CFOs.
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