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Board approves short-term tourist rentals

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- After holding a public hearing and further discussion on a zoning ordinance amendment and subsequent short-term tourist rental, the Warren County Board of Supervisors chose to approve the ordinance at the end of their meeting Tuesday night.

The initial vote after the public hearing would have called to re-advertise for a lower maximum occupancy and then hold a public hearing at their second meeting in May, but the board revisited the issue at the end of the meeting and voted unanimously to approve the ordinance amendment.

While short-term rentals are currently allowed in the agricultural zoning district by conditional use permit, it would be a brand new use for the Residential-One zoning district now that the ordinance has been approved.

The most recent amendment set a maximum occupancy for these rentals at 12, but after board members heard from two citizens and other county staff, an initial decision was made to lower the maximum to 8, or whatever limit the health department puts on a rental home due to its septic system.

The second vote at the end of the meeting set the maximum occupancy back to 12.

The issue first came to light in October, when neighbors of such properties complained that the short-term rentals were having a negative effect on their residence.

Vice chairman Linda Glavis said she was in favor of giving property owners freedom to do what they wish, and feared that the new ordinance, if approved, might limit that freedom.

Martha Buracker spoke to the board about her experience as a property owner who has been renting short-term for the past three years. She said the tourism the rentals bring has a positive effect on the local economy, and as far as issues with renters, she's only had one so far.

Supervisor Tony Carter said he'd like to see the ordinance move forward for now, and if it doesn't work as they hoped, "we can always bring it back and amend the policy."

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