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Long wait for home-business use permit ends

SoVaNow.com / December 12, 2019
Halifax resident Erin Shaughnessey’s lengthy quest to obtain a town permit to operate an apparel business out of her home has come to a successful conclusion.

On Tuesday, members of Halifax Town Council granted a special use permit to Shaughnessy that allows her to sell LulaRoe clothing from her 615 Mountain Road home without running afoul of town code.

After initially denying the permit request, then undertaking the prolonged process of amending portions of the code that barred stocking inventory at residences, Council members expressed thanks to Shaughnessy for enlightening them on the changing nature of the retail trade.

“I commend Erin for opening our eyes for what we need to do. I was unaware other places had done this,” said Council member Jack Dunavant.

“If we had this information upfront we could have done this in one meeting,” added Dunavant, who spoke on the matter during the regular Council session. His remarks came after approval of Shaughnessy’s request during the committee work session earlier in the evening. Shaughnessy had departed by then.

“I wished Erin Shaughnessy was still available at the end of the meeting for my apology for Erin having to go through this tedious process,” Dunavant said.

Council member Bill Confroy agreed the process had dragged on too long. “We’d be out of business if we were an actual business.”

Mayor Dexter Gilliam and Council member Mike Trent added that town code should be reviewed for any other potential areas that need to be updated to fit with 21st century commerce.

Previously, Shaughnessy had made the case to Council that being a stay-at-home mom and LulaRoe retailer was good for her family and for Halifax at large.

“Supporting small business from my within my home also benefits the Town. We are active in the community and reciprocate the support given to us. I simply want to stay home with my kids and pay my bills,” wrote Shaughnessy on her application for the special use permit.

The motion to approve the permit was voted on by both Town Council and the Halifax Town Planning Commission. A potential glitch emerged when Ron Reiter, a member of the planning board, noted that Shaughnessy would still need a business license from the town. However, Town Manager Carl Espy noted she in fact has a license to sell LuLaRoe merchandise at the Halifax Farmers Market, and the license could be amended to apply to her home as well.

In other business, Council authorized an application to the USDA-Rural Development Community Facilities Grant and Direct Loan Program for money to replace two police vehicles and a four-wheel drive truck with crew cab for sanitation use.

The Banister River Hydro-Electric Dam is deemed safe after a May 30 inspection. Council is still working to find out who would be responsible for repairing the dam in the event of a catastrophe.

Plans remains on schedule for the VDOT Smart Scale Project with bids applications expected to be issued in March.

The Town is seeking tobacco grant funding for improvements to the Halifax War Memorial. The Southside Economic Development committee of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will take up the grant request at a meeting slated Jan. 6.

Assistant Town Manager Denise Barksdale and Council member Trent agreed on the need to split up two events, Halifax Open House and Shop Small Saturday, to allow shoppers to spread out their purchases in town over two separate weekends.

“Every merchant and market vendor noticed a huge increase of visitors,” said Barksdale, after both promotions fell this year on the post-Thanksgiving weekend.

“We plan to keep the events separate next year,” said Barksdale, adding that only two Saturdays are left for Christmas shopping.

The Halifax Village Association Children’s Christmas Parade and Tree lighting ceremony was rescheduled from Dec. 1 to Dec. 8 due to rain, but that allowed for an increase of participation of children and pets. The “Santa Paws” parade this year raised money for the Halifax Dog Squad.



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