Residents rally around home-based Paris bakery

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Supporters are rallying around the owner of a popular Paris bakery that has become the target of a bylaw complaint.

Because of the pandemic, Shelby Stone, owner of Sugar and Spice Bakery, moved her business from Wincey Mills in downtown Paris to her home on Parkhill Lane.

Stone has adapted to the new COVID-19 realities by having customers place orders online and arrange pickup times during a four-hour window on Saturday mornings. When customers arrive they call or text Stone, who then places their orders in their vehicles.

One problem is that her home is in a new subdivision, which has a provision forbidding commercial or professional businesses operating from a dwelling. Another problem is that the business has led to complaints about increased traffic in the neighbourhood, among other things.

In response to a complaint and subsequent visit from bylaw enforcement, Stone applied for a zoning bylaw amendment and pleaded her case at a planning meeting this week.

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Councillors accepted her presentation as information and sent the issue to planning staff for further review. It will come back to councillors for discussion but, meantime, Stone is allowed to continue to operate.

“All I’m looking for is to continue to be allowed to have customers pick up their orders from my home,” Stone said.

She told councillors she was unaware of any bylaw that would prohibit her from having a home-based business when she purchased the Parkhill Lane house.

Prior to moving into Wincey Mills, Stone said she sold her products from her previous home on Jane Street in Paris with no issues.

Stone said most of the concerns about increased traffic are due to work vehicles connected to construction in the neighbourhood. As well, there is an increase in delivery truck traffic as more people order goods online.

She said her customers account for a small number of vehicles on the street.

“During these difficult times, we need to be supporting small businesses,” Stone said. “That’s what Paris is all about.

“I support local businesses in our community and I appreciate everyone who has supported my small business through this time.”

Councillors received nearly 100 letters supporting Stone, including one from Jennifer Westfall, who lives across from Stone.

“I have not noticed any increase in traffic on the street or any other concern with the bakery operating from the home on Parkhill Lane,” Westfall said in her letter. “I am retired and at home the majority of the time.”

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Kerry-Ann Pletch, of Long Lane, Paris, in her letter, took aim at the subdivision covenants that prohibit home-based businesses, arguing such regulations disadvantage women.

“Small home-based businesses, for many decades, have been one way that women have balanced childcare/eldercare with earning money,” Pletch said. “I remember my own mom hosting Tupperware parties.

“Today, women still sell Tupperware, jewelry, baking and run day cares all from their front porch.”

Councillors also heard from Erik and Anita Jespersen, who live on Parkhill Lane, who said Stone’s customers also have been picking up orders on Thursdays, Fridays and sometimes Sunday.

“We find the added traffic disruptive and a safety concern as there are many young children around,” the couple said.

They said they purchased their home on the understanding it was in a “residential only” area. Allowing one resident to open a home business isn’t fair to others, they said.

They said they also worry that allowing Stone’s business will open the way for others.

Vball@postmedia.com

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