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Business owner faces permit application troubles

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LISBON – The town is reviewing its decision to grant a residential building permit to a woman running a business out of her home.

Donna J. Royce, owner of Create-A-Can, was granted a permit to build an addition on her home and told town Code Enforcement Officer Christopher J. Sherwin she was no longer operating her business.

Citing prohibitive overhead costs, Ms. Royce closed down her 637 State St., Ogdensburg, storefront at the end of August. Instead of the physical store, Ms. Royce said she was going to focus on growing the online sales operation from her home. She had said she planned to deliver her products and make arrangements with customers to pick up orders.

Create-A-Can’s website is still operational and the store’s Facebook page includes a post dated Sept. 26 advertising the business’s availability to deliver, ship and have people come to Ms. Royce’s house to pick up orders.

Mr. Sherwin said Ms. Royce told him she wanted to build an addition to her home “for personal use.”

At the Aug. 10 Planning Board meeting, the board approved her application unless it was discovered that she was running her business from her home.

“She told me she closed the business down,” said Mr. Sherwin.

He said if he found Ms. Royce to be continuing pickups or other business operations at her house, she would be required to install handicapped access, a sprinkler system and emergency exits.

St. Lawrence County Planning Office Deputy Director Jason C. Pfotenhauer said in order to avoid those requirements, businesses operating out of a private home must be “incidental to the primary function of the home.” In other words, the home must be a home first and a business second.

Ms. Royce said Thursday she is “taking a step back” from the business for personal reasons.

“We get a few online orders, maybe one per month,” she said when asked about the volume of business she is keeping up.

“If people come to her house it’s a problem,” said Mr. Sherwin.

Mr. Sherwin said he has gotten several complaints from people who saw a sign at Create-A-Can’s old Ogdensburg location redirecting them to her home location. That sign had been taken down Thursday.

Susan M. Duffy, Town Council member and liaison to the town Planning Board, said, “We absolutely want businesses, but you have to file the proper permit.”

Ms. Royce posted a statement to Facebook on Thursday saying, “As I told the code enforcer, it’s my goal down the road to open the business here for pickups and a small store front, but it’s not something I am doing at the moment nor in the foreseeable future - we have taken a step back from the business at this point in time for several reasons.”

Mr. Sherwin said he will be speaking with the County Planning Office about how to proceed.

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