Panel backs rental permit over neighbors’ concerns

FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County Planning Commission Wednesday backed a construction company’s request to turn a home into a tourist rental, despite neighbors’ opposition.

The commission voted to forward an applicantion for a conditional-use permit for a short-term tourist rental to the Board of Supervisors with the recommendation for approval.

Frank O’Reilly applied for the permit to rent his property at 540 Beach Drive to tourists. The 10-acre property, zoned for agricultural use, lies in the Shenandoah Magisterial District and is accessed off Rockland Road, via Bennys Beach Road and Old Dam Road. The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a hearing and take action on O’Reilly’s application on Feb. 21.

Planning Director Taryn Logan said Thursday that eight people spoke at the public hearing held on O’Reilly’s request. Several speakers voiced concerns about the traffic that the rental property could generate and its impact on the nearby roads.

Michael Foeckler, vice president for operations and planning for Christendom College, stated in a Jan. 9 letter that the college supports O’Reilly’s requests to operate a rental unit at 540 Beach Drive as well as at 170 Berbusse Lane.The Berbusse Lane property lies near the college.

“Rentals are of great benefit to visitors to the college community and represent a beneficial asset and accommodation option that is welcome,” the letter states.

Bennys Beach Road resident Connie England also submitted a letter of support for O’Reilly’s request.

“Everything the O’Reillys have done has been very high quality,” England states. “They have been thoughtful neighbors and have helped maintain the road in front of my house and even ploughed my driveway.”

O’Reilly owns a construction company and built the house last year, according to information from planner Matt Wendling. O’Reilly owns numerous properties in the county, many of which he set up as short-term tourist rentals prior to the county’s adoption in November 2014 of the ordinance regulating such use. O’Reilly’s son would act as manager for the property.

The O’Reillys feel that the business model for short-term tourist rentals is an asset to the county by bringing tourists and more tax revenue at a minimal cost for public services, Wendling stated in his report. Lots owned by O’Reilly and his wife surround the property. Guests will have direct access to the river for recreational activities, Wendling noted.

Staff recommended that several conditions should apply to the permit to include a limit of eight occupants in the dwelling, annual testing of well water and the septic system; submission of a management plan to the Planning Department; registration of the rental with the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office for transient lodging tax purposes.

The county ordinance requires that if the property lies in a subdivision governed by a homeowners or property owners association then the Planning Department must receive a recommendation of approval or disapproval from that organization. O’Reilly’s property is not served by such an association. A road maintenance committee for Bennys Beach Road and Old Dam Road does serve the property.

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