Clarifying a ‘short-term basis

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Now that Ed and Patricia Crowling have withdrawn requests for conditional use permits regarding use of their 6.44-acre property in Lunenburg at 1853 Hart Road, county officials are now working to clarify what it means to be able to rent a property on a short-term basis.

The permits formerly under consideration by county planners — one to rent the property per the use definition of a short-term rental and one for the operation of a personal services business-event planning — brought heated discussion during the Feb. 21 Lunenburg County Planning Commission meeting as neighbors and members of the community rallied against the personal services business-event planning permit.

Director of Community Development Beverley P.  Hawthorne said she is working with the county attorney to determine specific guidelines defining what it means to be able to rent a property on a short-term basis.

The neighbors argued the property — which was being sought to be used as a wedding venue — could disrupt the quiet lifestyle and neighborhood surrounding the property.

The planning commission voted to recommend

the board of supervisors deny the conditional use permit for the personal services business-event planning.

According Hawthorne, questions arose as to what the short-term rental meant after planners voted to recommend supervisors approve the permit which would allow the Crowlings to rent their property on a short-term basis.

“As ruled back in 2013, (the Crowlings) have the opportunity to rent the property on a short-term basis as by-right,” said Hawthorne. “Our zoning ordinance does not say whether you can rent it long-term or short-term. It just says you can own the property and everybody knows that you should be able to rent your property, but you’re renting it for a single-family residence.”

The Crowlings, by-right, are permitted to rent their home as a single-family dwelling, Hawthorne explained.

While it is custom to rent a property for a number of months to a year or more, the Crowlings requested a conditional use permit which would have allowed them to rent the property on a short-term basis, Hawthorne said.

“Short-term rental for somebody for a year is completely different from the intention of renting it out for a weekend or a couple of days or a week or two,” Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne said there wasn’t a time frame for when decisions on the guidelines could be finalized.