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Board delays request for tourist rental permit

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- Another Warren County property owners' request to rent their home to tourists hit a snag this week.

Todd and Brenda Peal requested a conditional-use permit to allow them to rent their property at 1754 Khyber Pass Road to tourists on a short-term basis.

The Board of Supervisors agreed at its regular meeting Tuesday to table the request for 30 days to allow time for County Attorney Blair Mitchell to look into any legal issues related to the matter. The board acted after holding the required public hearing on the request.

County Planner Matt Wendling told the board that the Peals bought the property at foreclosure in 2012 and renovated the house with the intention of using it as a personal getaway cabin and to rent part time. The Peals live in the Fairfax area.

"It came to the attention of Planning [Department] during research on short-term tourist rentals in the county that their business did not have the appropriate zoning permit," Wendling said. "They had been renting property periodically for two years with a flat-rate fee."

Board Chairman Daniel J. Murray Jr. asked Todd Peal why he didn't apply for a permit and go through proper channels "rather than being caught" renting without approval. Peal said the couple own and lease properties in other counties.

"We had no idea there were certain requirements for short-term rentals," Peal said.

No one spoke during the public hearing.

Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard Traczyk made a motion to table the matter.

"Mr. Chairman, I understand you had a number of questions for legal [counsel] that have not been answered," Traczyk said.

Murray concurred and Traczyk suggested the board hold off on the request until the attorney provides that information.

Mitchell declined to comment on the permit request on Wednesday.

The 3.16-acre property is in the Skyland Estates subdivision, which is not a gated community. The county defines short-term tourist rental as a single-family dwelling rented for periods of less than 30 days.

Since the department notified the Peals about the situation, the applicants have consolidated the five lots they owned as requested by staff members to bring the property into compliance with the county's subdivision ordinance.

The Warren County Health Department weighed in on the approval for a septic system that would support the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

Information provided by the county shows the properties and structures did not conform with county regulations in that the dwelling doesn't meet required setbacks and two accessory buildings lie on vacant lots. The lots were recorded with the Hidden Valley section of Skyland Estates in 1958 and don't meet current length to width.

The Peals' request to consolidate the lots received approval, thus allowing the property to conform.

The permit as endorsed by the Planning Commission includes the following conditions: a limit of no more than four occupants as per health department rules for a two-bedroom home; no washing machine or garbage disposal; annual testing of well water and inspection of the septic system; and a requirement that the applicants register with the commissioner of the revenue's office for transient lodging tax.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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