Business Plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010

Show us your plan, business owner told

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s land commission told a business owner to return in April with written plans for selling used appliances and other goods from his home.

The commission’s directive broke an impasse between commissioners and business owner Eugene Smith over how to proceed with a business that is already operating.  

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Smith was asking for direction while commissioners were asking Smith to describe his plans.

“I didn’t know there was a code violation. I will make any necessary changes you want me to do,” Smith told the commission at his public hearing, held Monday night in Batesville.

Smith had been told by the county to apply for a permit since he operates a commercial business from his home at 18639 Highway 51.

The permit, if granted, would give him a special exception to resume commercial activity in a residential area.

Smith’s home is located between Sardis and Batesville, where passersby view a front yard lined with refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers and many other goods.

Smith told the commission he operates the business during weekdays if the weather permits. He said the appliances are bought elsewhere and are resold at the home, or sold for scrap if they can’t be repaired.

Asked at one point about the number of appliances, he said that “25 to 30” washers are currently sitting in the front yard.

Back-and-forth discussion among commissioners included moving the business to the back yard, an idea that commission attorney Colmon Mitchell cautioned would set a bad precedent in the future.

“Being out of sight doesn’t change Mr. Smith meeting the requirements,” commission chairman Danny Walker pointed out.

Walker described Smith’s business as a “perpetual yard sale,” declaring it a day-to-day business that must meet standards for commercial activity.

Providing adequate parking and safe parking, and determining whether the business conflicts with the community, are among the main requirements, he said.

Smith’s wife, Katie, said her husband began reselling goods to earn income after his health worsened.  

She also noted that neighboring homes also hold frequent yard sales.

“I’m sure what they’re selling is not coming out of their houses either,” she said.

Commission consultant Bob Barber wrapped up the topic when he asked Smith to draw a site plan for the commission to review.

At the end of the meeting, Walker returned to the issue of Smith’s home-based business, prompted by Katie Smith’s words.

“It concerns me that we would request something of him and not of others,” Walker said.