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In-Home Studios Against Zoning Codes

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 04, 2015

It’s a surprising rule in Music City: for profit in-home recording studios are against the law.

Zoning codes allow for homeowners to have music equipment and studios for personal use; however once that person begins to make money off that studio, they could be fined.

Bill Penn, Assistant Director for the Metro Codes Department, said the reason for that is the property is then considered to be a commercial property.  A classification not allowed in most neighborhoods.

“There's a balance there we have to strike,” Penn said. “If I live next door to a recording studio, I don't want it to impact my enjoyment of my residential property.”

Parking, Penn said, is the biggest concern neighbors have.  Penn claims if the recording studios begin operating as a business, cars could begin filling up roads, possibly blocking driveways.

Musicians, however, are not thrilled with that explanation.

“This is Music City.  It seems a little short-sided to look at things that way,” Dave Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy is the President of the Nashville Musicians Association. He was part of a group that attempted to pass an ordinance allowing in-home studios back in 2013. Mayor Megan Barry, a Council Member at the time, was the sponsor of that bill that was quickly tabled.

When asked this week what she thinks of the new push for regulation, all Mayor Barry would say is that she’s interested to see what happens.

Pomeroy claims musicians have been coming to him saying Metro Codes has sent them cease and desist orders in recent weeks.

Metro codes denies that.

“Since I've been with codes as a matter of fact, we've had 10 [violations] that I’m personally aware of,” Penn said.

Because of the growing discord between Nashville government and musicians, both Penn and Pomeroy hope Metro Council takes up the issue in the near future.

“It is an important issue,” Pomeroy said. “It’s something that's a combo of technology and art and commerce all of which has changed drastically [in recent years].”

So far, Metro Council has not added any discussion to their agendas.