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  1. #1
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    Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    Hello guys,
    I have a Laser business, setup on my garage is a 2.5 unattached garage in the middle of my backyard, is like a half-block away from the street, since fall, we have been doing more projects with MDF Wood because the smell is more noticeable, we got a Pure Air Fume Extractor Smoke Purifier, and we cut wood once a week also we cut acrylic only every other day and prepared and pack the next...

    Even with that preventive measures, a neighbor mentions to my wife the smell bothers her, and she wants us to know before she calls the city. the odd thing is that she mentions that the smell bothers her "every day" even that we definitely only cut wood once a week and acrylic every other day at most.

    I went to talk with them, talk to the husband and I told him we are gonna test a water-carbon filter system, and even that we do not cut every day, we can definitely adapt our schedule to their needs.

    But because I know she has complained before about other neighbors (she came once asking me to call the city for a neighbor behind us)Im 90% sure she will call the city even with the measures we are taking.

    So I will like to hear about similar experiences and how went down? Do the city comes and measures smell/smoke levels (ideally for me) do they request specific accommodations, or they just demand to shutdown?

    Now, when I start my business, I investigate the requirements for this kind of business, I create a LLC and have a license, my city currently does not requires a specific Permit or has any specifications beyond the basics for any home business.

    I know an LLC separates the Person from the Business, so if I get a letter from the city, should I respond differently if is addressed to my person instead of to my LLC? technically I do not own the equipment, is the LLC, but I do own the space where the LLC is operating.

    Thanks so much!

    Michael

  2. #2
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    What you have there is a 'Karen' problem, nothing you can do will make her happy short of moving across the country. She already has a track record. She won't give up until she wins or is completely destroyed.

    If she calls the city, they will most likely send out code enforcement to check things out. If code enforcement determines that there is a problem then work with them to mitigate any problem to their satisfaction, be advised that some level of environmental protection authority may get involved and this would not be good. If they don't see a problem, then destroy Karen's credibility by presenting the opportunity to goad her into calling the city when you are not cutting, or preferably not even in your shop, just make it look like you are in your shop. She can only cry wolf so many times before she is ignored.

    Your propose filter system is a good idea, that should mitigate any smells coming from the process as well as removing any particulate from the vent system. Put a small windsock on your shop and only cut when you are downwind from Karen. This won't stop her from complaining, but it will prove that her complaints are unfounded. Video evidence is always a good thing. A camera in the shop and another with the windsock in the frame would go a long way to proving your position.

    In this case having a LLC or as a sole proprietor makes no difference.

    If you are in an agricultural/farm zone, start a pig farm and feed them restaurant food waste, that will mask any odors from your laser operation, and really give her something to complain about. Make sure your zoning allows something like a laser cutting operation (light industrial?), you may or may not be in compliance.

    Best of luck.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  3. #3

    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    Your residence is not going to be classified as commercial property , so I'd say technically the city can bring numerous reasons to shut you down . If you say you only do this for hobby then there probably isn't much that anyone can say about it unless you were living in a strata . Key is not letting your neighbors know that you are running a business .
    As far as measuring air quality that would be up to you to shell out the cash for , and it's not cheap . If she starts complaining of being sick or whatnot from the fumes then that in itself can be a huge can of worms

    The fact your neighbor likes to rat people out isn't going to play out well . If business is good and shop space can be found at a reasonable price , then that may be a backup plan worth preparing for

  4. #4
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    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    This exact thing happened to a buddy of mine. Code enforcement was happy when he installed the laser filtration system sold by Boss laser. Wasn’t cheap, but it solved the problem.

    My laser exhaust is about 16’ off the ground. I don’t have near the strong smell he had when I cut mdf and acrylic. There’s a smell, but it’s not strong.

  5. #5
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    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    Thanks definitely good feedback! I just want to be preventive at the same time Im assuming she will call no matter what improvements I do.
    My goal was when I reach full-time hours, then find a small warehouse rent near me, but depends of this I may start looking early for that...

  6. #6
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    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    Hello everyone, I just want to give an update (so far)on my situation:

    The Neighbor came again a few weeks ago with what she thought was a fair option: A- Shut down, or B-she will call the city to make me shut down (lol... As you can imagine that conversation went nowhere, and I went ahead with my preventive measures:

    I talk with all the neighbors around the block (no about my business) to see if any complain comes up, nothing actually.
    I make a filtration system using a Rain Barrel, full 50% with water and baking soda, topped with Charcoal (interesting, the first 2-3 days was making some difference, but after that is doing even better, my guess is that the water getting thick with use, help to hold, dust and stuff better, so instead of replacing the water completely every week, I change 50% at the time)
    Im no cutting MDF after 4:30 every day and not weekends neither, the only exception is rainy days.
    I bought an Air Quality Pollution Monitor on Amazon, did readings on the border of my property and around the block, this was a great relief because all readings came green. I reading down some of those readings to keep records.

    My neighbor has not come complaining again yet, the city has not come or email neither, I do come to the garage and turn everything on sometimes and do not work, just to keep them guessing if im working, also I print the Air Quality Index color guide, so if someone comes I can ask if they are using that index to follow the complaint ( is possible that they do, and someone came already to do readings and if they are as mine, they just didn't follow)

    I start to look for small warehouses in the area, but that will be in the middle term when business is increased enough to consider renting a place where I can work 8 hours a day no stop... my goal is for when my younger goes full day kindergarden in two years....

    I Will post if more happen!

    Michael

  7. #7

    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    put speakers along the fence line and every day crank up the nastiest death metal you can find .

  8. #8
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    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    I do listen metal, most industrial and Symphonic metal, even worst I listen Japanese Pop and Metal, LOL.

    Plan C is buying the smelliest weed I can find and throw it in my fire pit when they are outside!

  9. #9

    Re: Neighbor may complain to the city, what to expect?

    fire pit you say . Burn garbage if she manages to shut you down

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