Auto Repair Business vs. Boat Repair Business

by Mary
(Central NC)

Our ordinances limit a boat repair business much more than auto repair. I'm just wondering what the rationale is behind that? I am looking to submit a petition to change the ordinance to reflect a similar level of zoning for both. It would help if I knew what the hang-ups were on boat repairs. We have a small boat repair business and want to lease a garage that currently would allow auto repair but not boat repair... TIA!

Editors Reply

We haven't noticed this distinction in other zoning ordinances. As to what the rationale is, you would need to ask your local town or city government about what they were thinking.

One idea may be that boats don't travel over land by themselves, so the space needed to accommodate their being towed in would be much greater. A certain amount of noise and commotion is inevitable as the boats are being removed from trailers as well.

Another thread of an idea may be that your local jurisdiction is concerned about some type of pollution or critter from local waterways being spread into a wider variety of locations. This seems unlikely, but there are instances of something similar in some zoning ordinances.

There are some good arguments in the other direction as well. Since there are fewer boats than cars almost everywhere, boat repair would seem to be likely to generate less traffic, not more.

We actually think it's really silly to treat the two classes of repair facilities differently. After all, zoning is based on the most prevalent and typical use of a building. Unless specific to your location, no one says that a car repair business can't repair a boat if the owner convinces the proprietor to take that business.

A clothing store might sell bubble gum, an office supply store sells refrigerators, a service station sells candy, and a fast food restaurant might sell T-shirts or coffee mugs. Zoning is based on the common customer of the business, not every customer.

We use this long analogy just to show that it doesn't seem reasonable to restrict boat repair more than automobile repair.

But what we think doesn't count, so go ahead and ask your local government officials about the reasoning behind the ordinance. Perhaps your economic development people (a chamber of commerce if you don't have economic development professionals on city staff) could help you make your case.


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