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Full house backs home business

South Boston News
Members of Halifax Town Council listen to audience members during the work session portion of Tuesday’s meeting. / September 12, 2019
Members of Halifax Town Council were greeted with a rare sight at their monthly meeting Tuesday: a packed audience at Town Hall.

Members of the community came out in force to support a request by Halifax resident Erin Shaughnessy to operate a home-based business at her 615 Mountain Road residence after her application for a permit was denied by Town Council in July.

Shaughnessy, a direct-to-market seller of LuLuRoe women’s apparel, ran afoul of a provision in the town code that bars home-based businesses from keeping inventory on premises. She was back before Council on Tuesday night, supported by a crowd of customers and friends.

“I know first-hand why you love and protect this area like you do,” Shaughnessy said to Council members as she explained her desire to continue running the business at her home. “In keeping with the spirit of the zoning ordinance, it is not my intention to create traffic, change the appearance, destroy property values or hurt anyone.”

It was a reference to the concerns expressed by Council members in July that her operation could create problems in the neighborhood due to the volume of traffic and shipments to her home. One member of Council, Bill Confroy, had urged Shaughnessy to open a storefront business in Halifax as a way of complying with town code.

But Shaughnessy said Tuesday that doing business at home allowed her freedom “to be 100 percent present for my family” while generating income for priorities such as college for her children.

“There are a number of others in this R-1 district that sell items like jewelry, makeup, handbags and crafts,” she said, reading from prepared remarks. “An additional few who provide care-giving services, photography and then bankers, realtors and lawyers who also work from home. There are other income-producing businesses who have been approved to carry on their daily operations, so I have to wonder why I have been denied and, in the limelight, while no one else is.

“By making an example out of me, a hard-working parent potentially unable to provide for and contribute to her family budget, you are also making an example of Halifax,” Shaughnessy said.

“Please consider how this affects the modern-day household and who you would like to see carry on the legacy of this town. I am more than willing to work this out and come to a compromise that best suits the Town, as well as my business,” Shaughnessy said.

She received support from a parade of other speakers, some of them neighbors who said they were not adversely affected by Shaughnessy’s retail activities.

Diane Henderson, a professor of accounting and economics, said that with the community’s economic struggles, and with the younger generation moving to larger cities, Council should recognize that the times are changing, and follow suit.

Ginger Hamlett, owner of The Packhouse, also voiced her support for Shaughnessy’s business, saying it draws people to Halifax, a point echoed by Holly Comer of Virgilina, who said she never would come to Halifax except to pay taxes before Shaughnessy began selling LuLuRoe products. Now she’s more likely to visit the restaurants and shops downtown, Comer said.

The comments by those speakers and others came during the work session portion of the Council meeting. During the regular session afterward, Councilman Jack Dunavant urged members to address the concerns of the public.

Dunavant suggested amending the town’s R-1 residential ordinance to allow for Shaughnessy’s operation and others like it. That brought a retort by Confroy, who expressed concerns of “opening Pandora’s Box” by issuing the permit to Shaughnessy.

Confroy asked for further information on the number of special use permits in town and who else may be operating without a permit, directing Town Manager Carl Espy to follow up with answers.

Espy replied that he would take an active role in researching options for residential home based zoning ordinances that would allow for home-based businesses such as Shaughnessy’s. Although no action was taken Tuesday, it was clear from the comments Tuesday and at the July meeting when the matter was discussed previously that most members of Council are sympathetic to Shaughnessy’s situation.

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Well I guess they will now allow the pyramid scheme. Lularoe is a rip off. Do some investigation.


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