Mariana Fernandes had been running her small craft business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, first making face masks and then expanding the offering to custom printed mugs and other items.
But the Milton mother of three had to shut down the business a few months ago after a bylaw officer — following a complaint — deemed her in violation of a zoning bylaw.
“I had nights that I didn’t even believe what was happening because so much has been invested, so much time and expectations,” she said.
Fernandes said she wasn’t aware of the rules and believed she was doing everything required from the start, even going as far as incorporating her business; not to mention the large investment for a printer and other supporting materials and supplies.
“It’s just so frustrating,” she said, hoping for a change in regulation to support small businesses like hers.
Running the business from her townhouse allowed her to make additional income for the family while still taking care of her children, she said.
For Fernandes and other weary home-based small business owners, change might be on the way — as the town is looking into expanding home occupation eligibility and business support programming.
Right now, a home daycare is among the limited few allowed.
Coun. Rick Di Lorenzo, a mover of the successful motion, said that they’re not looking to disrupt residential neighborhoods by creating a lot of noise or pollution.
“There are many micro businesses in Milton that have been very successful, and many of them have moved on now to their own commercial space. But a lot of them started in homes,” he said at a recent council meeting.
Allowing more flexibility will encourage entrepreneurship, small businesses, and job creation, he said.
According to the motion, any recommended zoning amendments and business support enhancements will be reported back for future council consideration.