Nashville home recording studios can open for business again.
A longstanding law limiting customer visits to Nashville home businesses has been scrapped by the city’s Metro Council in a new invoiceallowing home recording studios to operate legally in the city for the first time since 1998.
Passed on July 8, the amended order now allows up to six customer visits per day between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To be eligible under the new regulations, recording studios and other businesses that host on-site customers and/or employ people living away from home must first apply for an “occupancy home” which requires proof of written notices to landlords of adjacent properties, as well as an affidavit that the business is not in breach of any landlord or tenancy agreement. The applicant must also be “a natural person or persons or trust” and be the legal owner or lessee of the property with a lease of at least one year, among other prerequisites.
Additionally, the ordinance allows only one home occupancy permit per lot in the single-family and two-family zoning districts and only one permit per person, regardless of how many properties they own. Permits also cannot be transferred or assigned to another person or be licensed to anyone not listed on the permit. Permits are rendered null and void if the business owner’s residence is terminated.
Importantly for recording studios, the ordinance also requires that no “noise” or “vibration” be heard outside the home. Permits can be revoked if three or more “verified complaints” are filed in a calendar year, while other violations are subject to fines of $50 per day, per violation.
Nashville’s ordinance banning customer visits to home-based businesses (except child care and short-term rentals) has reached new levels of scrutiny during the coronavirus pandemic, when many residents were suddenly prevented from working in commercial spaces. In its July 8 ruling, the Metro Council found that the existing regulations created “a challenge for residents seeking extra income to survive in a city where the cost of living is skyrocketing” and represented “a significant barrier for children seeking tutoring, music lessons and other enrichment.
“Allowing limited home-based business activity will protect the residential character of neighborhoods while allowing more Nashvillians to earn additional income to stay in their homes,” the council concluded.
Even before the pandemic, the 20-plus-year ban proved controversial. In December 2017, the Grammy-winning Nashville producer and music engineer Elijah “Lij” Shaw and another local business owner sued the city over the ordinance with the help of the libertarian nonprofit public interest law firm Institute for Justice and the nonprofit think tank on the open market The Beacon Center of Tennessee. The lawsuit was dismissed last October by the Davidson County Nashville Chancery Court.