NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nestled in a quiet East Nashville neighborhood, buried deep in a basement, you’ll find Lij Shaw’s life work.
Lij’s Toy Box Studio opened its doors officially in 2007.
“Home studios are the lifeblood, and the fabric of Nashville,” he said.
The studio catered to countless local and national artists, until four years ago.
“2015 is when the city of Nashville sent me a letter,” Lij explained. “Said cease and desist operating the Toy Box studio, as a commercial studio in a residence.”
Lij was in violation of a little known code in Metro, where home businesses are barred from accepting clients at home.
“Doesn’t matter if you’re a recording studio, a hairdresser, a website designer, a wedding photographer, you’re selling essential oils to people, anything,” he said.
With his music silenced by the city, Lij has taken his fight to court.
He’s teamed up with the Institute for Justice, the Beacon Center, and a local home hairstylist, filing a suit against Metro arguing this code violates their constitutional rights.
“It’s how I feed my daughter, how I take care of my home and my family,” said Lij. “Being told that I can’t do it is devastating.”
Metro Government has discussed this topic numerous times.
Reasons discussed by the council for keeping the code as-is, have been laid out in court documents by Metro Legal. In short, council members have previously argued for keeping neighborhoods residential, discussing the problems that could follow should clients visit home businesses.
Metro Legal argues that this is not an issue of constitutionality, but more a disagreement that should be hashed out with Metro Council.
Both sides now await a summary decision by a county judge. But Lij says he’s prepared to take this fight to the State Supreme Court if need be.
“Without home studios, there would be no music in music city,” he said. “So we really need the home studios to survive.”