WOODSTOCK — On Jan. 24, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors plans to vote on whether to approve special use permits for proposed short-term rental properties in the Edinburg and Basye areas.

At a joint meeting of the board and the county Planning Commission on Thursday, commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend supervisors’ approval of the permits with various conditions.

During the first of two public hearings, commissioners considered a request for a special use permit that would allow two short-term rentals on an 82.5-acre property at 166 Lone Pine Road in the Edinburg area.

Gareth Noble, representing SettlersNest LLC, of Woodstock, applied for the permit on behalf of property owners Jaci and Donald Sauer. The overall property has an agriculture zoning designation and includes a farmhouse.

Noble proposed “two non-dwelling short term rentals for the property in the form of tents including electrical service to power, coffee machine, microwave, toilet venting, lighting, refrigerator, water chill, a wood-burning stove inside, a regular gas grill outside, and a fire pit,” according to county information.

The two tents would have access to a composting toilet and a hand-washing station and have a total capacity of up to eight people at a time.

According to the special use permit application, the proposed use of the potential short-term rental site would be for “professionally curated tent spaces focused on marketing the Shenandoah Valley farm experience.”

County Planner Tyler Hinkle said at Thursday’s meeting that the potential short-term rental tents’ site would be the first one in the county, and that Noble proposes establishing similar ones throughout the county.

Hinkle said the overall 82.5-acre property includes some forested land but no historical resources.

“There’s nothing like this out there,” Noble said during his presentation on the proposed short-term rental tents’ site. “This is a working farm.”

Jaci Sauer told county officials at the meeting that she and her husband have cows and sheep on their farm.

Noble likened each of his company’s tents to a “very glamorous studio apartment.” Each “five-star” tent is the size of a two-car garage, with 415 feet of floor space, and would contain a king-size bed and two queen-size beds, according to Noble.

In response to questions from commissioners, Noble said the tents would stand on the ground in a raised, level area next to the farmhouse, not on land that’s in agricultural production.

Waste water would go to an existing septic tank, and electricity for all of the equipment used by renters would come from batteries, as well as from a propane-powered generator that later could be boosted with solar power, he said.

Each tent would probably be rented for no more than five nights at a time, according to Noble.

The rental cost would be “expensive,” said Noble, who then added that some short-term renters in Edinburg had paid more than $1,000 per night during the county fair.

The proposed project involves no liability for the farmers and no money down from them, Noble said.

“We (SettlersNest) insure it completely, 100%,” he said. “It generates income for the farmers.”

According to the SettlersNest website, at https://garethnoble100.wixsite.com/website-13, the farmer who partners with the company on a short-term rental project will receive 70% of net revenue and SettlersNest will receive 30%.

During the commission’s deliberations on the permit requested by Noble, some commissioners said that his proposal, if approved, might set a precedent and lead to a proliferation of short-term rental tents in the Shenandoah Valley.

After much discussion, the commission agreed to recommend the approval of one tent with a total of no more than six occupants, instead of two tents with a total of eight occupants, for the proposed SettlersNest site.

The commission also recommended that inspections of the project’s proposed battery array and hand-washing station be required. Several county staff-recommended conditions also must be met.

After the second public hearing on Thursday, the Planning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend the approval of a special use permit that would allow a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house in the Basye area to be used as a short-term rental.

This rental’s capacity would be for up to 14 people at a time.

The house stands on a 0.38-acre property at 5630 Crooked Run Road. The property is zoned R-2 medium-density residential.

While it would not offer a farm experience, this proposed short-term rental would cater to people looking to enjoy the overall experience of visiting Shenandoah County, permit applicant William Muntean, of Falls Church, said at the meeting.

Muntean said the house has four normal-size bedrooms, as well as one bedroom that can hold two queen-size beds. In response to questions from commissioners, he said he would contract with one company to handle reservations and another company to do the cleaning and on-site management.

Guests would use an existing private driveway.

“There would be no parking on the street,” Muntean said. “We don’t want to be a nuisance to the neighbors.”

Commissioners later recommended approval of the special use permit with conditions, including a limit of five parked vehicles at the property.

In other business on Thursday, the commission appointed Gary Lantz as its chairman and Debbie Keller as its vice chairman for 2023. They will continue to serve in the same leadership roles they held last year.

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