Sound Off

Sound Off: Is there a law concerning having a home business, such as a small-engine repair or lawn mower repair shop, in a residential district? We have one in our neighborhood that starts about 7 a.m. and sometimes is operating until midnight.

Megan Gilliland, the city’s communications manager, provided this information: The city’s development code regulates home occupation standards in residential zoning districts. Any type of business that involves the repair or assembly of vehicles or equipment with internal combustion engines (such as autos, motorcycles, scooters, snow mobiles, outboard marine engines, lawn mowers, chain saws and other small engines) or of large appliances (such as washing machines, dryers and refrigerators) or any other work related to vehicles and their parts is prohibited. To report a code violation, visit or call (785) 832-7700.


JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

The same reason there isn't a foundry making castings next door to you?

KS 6 years, 1 month ago

It provides someone with the opportunity to complain.

Mike Edson 6 years, 1 month ago

You must be talking about east Lawrence. There are two such businesses on my street alone.

skinny 6 years, 1 month ago

As long as you don't charge for the service they can't do anything about it!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Considering the lack of good paying job opportunities I would say leave it alone. 7AM is not really that early. Work must get done.

Why don't the neighbors approach the repair shop to work out the problem instead of putting someone out of a job?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 1 month ago

Is 7AM too early for nekkid gardening?

RoeDapple 6 years, 1 month ago

Correct! When I used to be among the employed and worked nights I would respond to telemarketers (pre-caller ID), " Why don't you give me your home number then I'll call you when you're trying to sleep with my answer!"

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 1 month ago

Interesting at Merrill supports this activity but has long complained of a business too close to his home. Hypocrite.

LadyJ 6 years, 1 month ago

No mention of any problems such as noise or traffic, just that it's there. Do they mean that they can see him that he is working till midnight and that bothers them? Wow. Lived next to a guy for 30 yrs, in a single family zone, that ran an auto repair shop out of his garage. Always a few cars parked around. Nobody ever complained. Maybe they would prefer a drug dealer or meth lab, they would probably try to draw less attention.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

I've seen a house that backs up to Wakarusa close to Clinton Parkway where this presumably goes on. The driveway and backyard are full of cars, boats, lawn mowers, all kinds of stuff. It looks like a junkyard. He puts fixed stuff for sale on the street. I bet that house will need a hazardous waste disposal team when he decides to move out.

Maracas 6 years, 1 month ago

If it's not noisy or causing an unsightly mess with, for example, cars up on blocks in the yard or something, leave it alone. Next you'll be wanting rules about only painting houses a certain color, or about whether you have to keep your garage door down.

tomatogrower 6 years, 1 month ago

I think there are certain housing developments that have covenants like color, plants, trees, and open garage doors. When we were house hunting we made it clear that we didn't want to live in that sort of place.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure if the poster had foreseen this type of critique, they would have likely described in detail the noise, smells, and traffic issues associated with the small engine repair business operating on their street.

Tomato 6 years, 1 month ago

Actually most newer housing developments (and some older ones) in Lawrence has these kinds of covenants in place. Many people aren't even aware that they have extra rules that apply to them. When you're looking to buy a house in Lawrence, you should absolutely call down to city hall and ask for a copy of any covenant that is in place for the neighborhood you're looking at.

In many places, they are loosely or not at all enforced once the developer has sold all of the properties - but they continue to be in effect and are legally binding if someone wants to make a fuss. You would also have no way of knowing if the covenant is enforced or not until you actually moved in and tried to do something different.

They will usually include specific requirements for how a house should look, and may include provisions to exclude poultry, clothes lines, sheds or other structures, such as gazebos, above ground pools and so on.

Acey 6 years, 1 month ago

Out here in the near-West, folks who bought houses [in what I call] "Turnpike Vue Estates" in the seventies were bound by covenants drawn up by the developers. I remember looking at the list of strictures: house colors in "tasteful" colors, like moss green, redwood, warm toadstool, soothing pecan, and so forth. Each house had/has a light outdoors on a wall or post, because there are no street lights. No clotheslines in back, either. No chickens in the yard, no commercial activities.

One and only one white house had already been built before all the others, so it wasn't restricted.

Anyone with reason to believe that the house they have bought in such a neighborhood can find out somewhere in city hall. Houses on their block may no longer be bound by such restrictions. Our covenants died a natural "death". I wonder how many Turnpike Vue-ers realize this?!

Shane Powers 6 years, 1 month ago

Is there a code againt busybodies? If what they are doing isn't morally reprehensible, let them be. Live and let live I always say.

blogme 6 years, 1 month ago

Aaaaaammmmeeennnnn! There are far toooooo many busybodies putting their noses in everybody else's business ( literally and figuratively ), all crying about their property value, or the safety of the neighborhood, etc unnecessarily. FYI, the only time your property value matters is when you sell. So let the sellers and the guy with the property in question arrange to keep things clean while the house is on the market. Oh, but it's so much easier to go tattle tell with the city...boohoohoo...Nice job adults!

kernal 6 years, 1 month ago

This isn't about being a busybody, it's about trying to keep up the value of homes in your neighborhood. If you're trying to sell your house and a neighbor is operating a home auto shop out of his garage, that detracts potential buyers. Don't think for one minute that operating a makeshift auto shop out of a home doesn't cause noise and pollution because it does. Been there, seen it and smelled it.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

Zoning districts (i.e. single-family residential) are regulated for a reason. If this person is truly operating a small engine repair shop out of their garage, they need to be made aware that it is a code violation. Codes are establish to protect all individuals that reside in such districts as well as protect property values. I would not want to buy a home in a neighborhood that has this type of activity.

notyourmom 6 years, 1 month ago

Enlightenment for the win. Yes, there are rules against operating a business in a residential area.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

My complaint regarding SF residential districts involves excessive vehicles parking along both sides of the street. I have a neighbor that has four children with cars, one "renter" with a car, and each parent has a vehicle. They refuse to utilize their garage and driveway and park on the street. Wouldn't be the worse thing if they didn't occupy both sides of the street, reducing the street to one lane. In addition to the hazards of a one lane street for two way traffic, it is almost impossible for all the other neighbors to back out of their own driveway with all the parked cars. And for the icing on the cake, the woman that lives there will come out of here house to instruct others that they can not park in front of her house (but it's ok for her to park in front of others' home). Anyone have any solutions? Have spoken to them, but still no change. Also, the cars are typically moved daily so no violations for parking more than 48 hrs.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

If parking is allowed on both sides of the street, I don't think there's much you can do, if you've tried speaking with them and they're stubborn about it.

But, if the spot in front of her house is public as well, she can't instruct people not to park there, I think.

Sounds like a difficult neighbor - you have my sympathy.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

jafs, thanks and you're right, a very difficult neighbor. On more than one occasion, this neighbor has told my guest, and other neighbors' guest that they can't park in front of their home. My guest are usually polite and do not inform me of it until much later so I can't address it immediately. In addition, the family with all the cars parked on the street also have their guests (boy friends and girl friends) park on the street. So at times, there are as many as 10 vehicles parked along the street. I wish people would just have consideration for others.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Amen to that!

I've had difficult neighbors, and now have great ones - it makes a huge difference in one's day to day quality of life.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 1 month ago

What's their address? I'll come over and just park for fun.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

It gets better......another neighbor asked that they not park opposite his house at the end of his driveway because it is difficult for him to back out, plus he leaves very early in the a.m. so it's dark. Since his request last week, they appear to have purposely parked a car in the exact location he asked them not to. I can't help but think there is some prejudice going on because he is black. Regardless, the number of cars is annoying if nothing else. Any suggestions for a solution would be welcomed.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Can you move to a neighborhood with better neighbors?

That's what we did, and it's great.

Enlightenment 6 years, 1 month ago

Plan to relocate (out of state) over the next 6-9 months. But it sucks that I have a parking lot in front of my house and potential buyers probably will not be able to see my for sale sign when they try to squeeze between the parked cars on the street.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago


Yes, it sucks to try to sell your house with bad neighbors.

Good luck with that.

Where are you going? We're going to get out of here too, but not that quickly.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Probably Pennsylvania - we have family there and in Ohio.

Oregon's beautiful, from what I've seen.

LadyJ 6 years, 1 month ago

Would like to point out they are breaking the occupancy laws by having a renter. With four kids, there is more than three unrelated people living there in an area zoned single family.

Brian Hall 6 years, 1 month ago

It doesn't really matter who was there first since having a business operating out your home that deals with the repair of engines and appliances is prohibited.

somedude20 6 years, 1 month ago

who was alive first, the mother or the fetus? if that is how we make our decisions, I guess we just sovled many problems, huh?

irvan moore 6 years, 1 month ago

i'm happy to have nice neighbors, i woulld think you could talk to your neighbor and work out something ok for everybody. i grew up being taught that noise after 8am and before 9pm was acceptable during the week and after 9am on weekends was common courtesy

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 1 month ago

Getting something fixed in a timely fashion is a lot better than sending something back to the manufacturer and hoping they honor the warrenty and then hoping you get it back. I remember when items were repaired instead of thrown out. Seriously, what is up with the reader blogs? This has been going on for some time now. Why is so hard to fix? Who is this hacker?

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 1 month ago

I have to say, without more information about the situation it's hard to judge. Personally, I feel the code should be unnecessary. Noise and pollutant codes should be satisfactory for this situation. The neighbors should discuss the situation among themselves and work out his working hours to not be so late at night and work on noise levels. But also, there's no mention of whether it is an actual business (even though I wouldn't mind either way), I do repair work for friends all the time. Not everyone can afford to go to an overpriced dealership to change their oil and rotate their tires. So I'll do it for them, maybe they will provide a service they are good at like computer work for me in exchange.

People need to mind their own business and get over themselves. A guy making a living down the street is not going to destroy your home value.

Armored_One 6 years, 1 month ago

If the person with the home business wasn't repairing engines but, instead, was smelting bronze to make various pieces of sculpture, would there be as much complaint?

Liberty275 6 years, 1 month ago

As an undergrad, I had a stripper living next door that paid me $40 a day to take her to the club and bring her home at night. 3 miles each way. I love strippers.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 1 month ago

I envisioned you stomping your foot at the end of your post.

SirReal 6 years ago

I envision you letting anyone who wants to trample on your right to peace and quiet to roll right over you. I envision someone that has never had to deal with loud neighbors, tried to be nice to them, only to have them be extremely rude. I envision a pushover who is fairly naive.

Liberty275 6 years, 1 month ago

At what point do we call it a business and no longer "my friend that fixes my mower".

I understand the need for zoning, but unless the complainer can come up with something more than "I see him working on stuff all the time", I'd hang the jury.

Also, if the complainer was halfway human, they would visit their neighbor and share their concern about any problems before knocking on city hall's door begging for help.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

I agree - that's the important distinction.

Unfortunately, I used to believe as your last sentence, until I had some difficult neighbors, and talking to them just seemed to make things worse - now I'm much more inclined to simply call the police or the city.

There are a lot of unreasonable people out there - see Enlightenment's comments.

SirReal 6 years ago

I have loud neighbors and I did nicely try to work something out. What happened? THEY were not halfway human, ignored me, tried to scare me, and ignored the pleas of another neighbor whose baby couldn't sleep at night because of them. Now there is so much tension that I wouldn't dare to try and talk to them again. All being nice got me is more tension than I wanted and a rude attitude. So it usually doesn't work. Of course one HAS to be nice before taking things to a further level (police etc.) One attempt at being nice is all you can do. After that it's take it to the city and try to deal with it.

SirReal 6 years ago

Why hasn't anyone brought up the city noise ordinance? Any invasive noise at any time of day or night is against city ordinance. If your home is receiving invasive noise, you can call in a noise complaint and take further steps if necessary to secure your right to quiet. People you don't have to like it but it is the law. Get over it. I do freelance computer tech work and it's the most annoying thing in the world to have to listen to excessive noise when you are trying to work on computers. Is their right to make noise supercede my right to quiet? NO. Morally do they have more of a right to make noise and have freedom than I do? No. I want the freedom to work in peace and quiet, why would my needs be less than someone else's? I am not the one being invasive with loud noise.

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