By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- High Knob residents spoke out this week against another short-term rental proposal in the neighborhood.
The Planning Commission held public hearings Wednesdau on five requests by property owners for permits to allow them to rent houses to tourists for periods of less than 30 days.
At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, rather than make a recommendation on the permits, the commission agreed to table all permit requests, Planning Director Taryn Logan said Thursday. The commission may hold a work session later this month to further discuss the county's regulations on short-term tourist rentals. Owners renting to tourists may still do so until supervisors deny their permit request, Logan said.
Deborah Freeman and Roger Helm requested a conditional-use permit to run a rental at 258 High Knob Road. The property in the High Knob subdivision is zoned for agricultural use. The Planning Commission held a hearing July 9 on a similar request by the owner of property on Windy Way also in High Knob. The commission recommended supervisors deny the permit requested by Kimberly Hartke.
In an Aug. 7 letter to the county Planning and Zoning Department, Freeman and Helm stated they attended the public hearing held on Hartke's request, heard their neighbors and "share their outrage and concerns over how the Hartkes were handling their short-term rentals." Freeman signed a homeowner's association petition opposing Hartke's request. Freeman and Helm have asked the commission to view their request on its own merits. As in Hartke's case, Freeman and Helm have run their rental without a permit. They began the process to obtain a permit in early May.
Freeman and Helm note that while Harkte's property is at the top of the hill in High Knob, their house is at the bottom of the hill, reducing the drive for renters.
The High Knob Owner's Association opposes Freeman and Helm's request, as it had Hartke's, and has started a separate petition drive.
The commission held hearings on the following other requests:
- James Hueser requested a conditional-use permit to run a short-term rental at 72 River Oak Drive, in the River Oak subdivision, on property in an agricultural district. Information provided by the county department indicates that Hueser works as an information technology consultant from his home. Hueser's work involves extended stays away from home and, as such, he wants to rent his house to supplement his income. The Health Department permitted the home for four bedrooms and no more than eight occupants. Hueser proposes to share his house with up to six guests in three of the bedrooms.
- Joseph Chirico requested a permit to run a rental at 1538 Riverview Shores Drive on residential property in the Shenandoah Shores subdivision. The Shenandoah Shores Property Owners Association wrote a letter to county officials stating its opposition to the request, citing its bylaws that prohibit businesses in the subdivision.
- Gooney Lodge Partners LLC requested a permit to run a rental at 2531 Browntown Road in an agricultural district. A July 23 letter from Jefferson and Sally Waldon, of Lexington, states that Gooney Lodge Partners "has had guests at the property for many years, and they have done a very good job at eliminating problems with surrounding properties."
- Garth Woodruff requested a permit to run a rental at 231 Rocky Mount Road on property zoned for residential use in the Blue Mountain subdivision. The applicants live in Michigan but want to keep their property in Linden as a place to stay when visiting family in the area and own the home to have more control over who rents the house, according to information from the county.
Short-term tourist rentals are a by-right use on property of greater than 5 acres in the agricultural district. The county currently requires a conditional-use permit to run short-term tourist rentals in the agricultural district on properties of 5 acres or less or in a residential district.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org