The Front Royal Planning Commission endorsed a proposal on Wednesday to rent a house to short-term guests.
Vice Chairman William Gordon and commissioners Joshua Ingram, Connie Marshner and Daniel Wells voted at their regular meeting in favor of a motion to forward an application to the Town Council, with a recommendation for approval, for a special-use permit to allow a short-term rental at 30 Fairview Ave. Chairman Darryl Merchant voted against the motion.
The Town Council will hold an Oct. 24 public hearing on the application.
Vesta Property Management LLC applied for the permit. Kiwi Properties III LLC, located in Woodville, owns the property, according to the application.
In response to a question by Merchant, Chloe Phillips, with Vesta Property Management, confirmed a corporation owns the property and the short-term rental would not be owner-occupied. Merchant and some other commissioners have voiced concerns about an increasing number of rentals not occupied by owners.
The property is zoned R-1 Residential District. The permit would allow a maximum occupancy of six people in the four-bedroom dwelling and no more than two vehicles parked in the property driveway. The applicant plans to rent the entire home. The applicant passed an inspection conducted Aug. 25. Department staff have recommended approval for the permit.
Up to eight people can occupy the dwelling but Phillips said she applied for a maximum of six given the size of the house. The driveway provides enough space for two vehicles while another two to three vehicles can park along the street in front of the property, Phillips said.
“My goal is we will not rent to any multi-family,” Phillips said. “It’s strictly one guest, one family at a time. There will not be multiple families there at once.”
Planning Director Lauren Kopishke said the town code requires one parking space per room and additional spaces for employees on the property. On-street space cannot be included in the requirement, she added. The rule for employee spaces does not apply in this case, Kopishke said.
The director recommended that the commission forward the permit application with the added condition that the applicant provide two additional parking spaces within 300 feet of the property or reduce the number of rooms available to two and occupancy limited to four people. Phillips said the applicant plans to rent only three of the bedrooms. A downstairs bedroom has been converted into an office and is off limits to guests, Phillips said.
“Well, my thoughts are that, you know, we knew that we were gonna be seeing applications with … limited parking I think when we first approved this ordinance for short-term rentals,” Ingram said. “I think that we do need to address it, you know, make it clear what our intentions are.”
But Phillips told commissioners the ordinance does not state the parking restriction.
“The parking isn’t in your short-term ordinance and it was stated that no one had said from this council or planning (commission) that there were any issues with parking prior to being here,” Phillips said.
“So does this application meet our code or not?” Merchant asked.
Kopishke said the application would meet the code requirements if the applicant reduced the number of bedrooms for rent to two.
“(The property) just doesn’t have adequate parking per our code and our code is ambiguous here,” Kopishke said.
The application would not prevent the applicant from renting out the entire house, Kopishke said.
Phillips said she would not have a problem with limiting the number of vehicles parked on the property at two.
Gordon asked where the parking requirement originates. Kopishke cited the short-term rental ordinance that states parking shall be located on driveways or other designated, approved parking areas.
Town Attorney George Sonnett Jr. chimed in.
“The only way you can interpret that condition is that it requires off-street parking,” Sonnett said. “Again, if on-street parking was allowed, you wouldn’t need that condition at all.”
Sonnett went on to say that the ordinance for the lodging, boarding and bed-and-breakfast category includes parking requirements is the “closest fit” for short-term rentals. The ordinance requires uses in that category to provide one space per room, Sonnett said.
Gordon questioned the need for the parking requirement. Gordon said such a rental likely would attract families, possibly with children, and fewer vehicles than bedrooms. Gordon said he would support forwarding the application to the Town Council without the parking conditions.
Marshner asked why parking is a concern in the case of this application given that the neighborhood allows on-street parking.
“But it’s clear from the photo that we’re given that plenty of people living locally are parking on the street,” Marshner said.
Gordon explained that in another code section the town requires a certain number of off-street parking spaces per bedroom.
Ingram said the commission left the parking requirement in the short-term rental ordinance vague so members could discuss the matter on a case-by-case basis when considering permit applications.
Commissioners also voted at the meeting to approve the consent agenda and authorize the town to advertise the following items for public hearings:
• A request by SeeSuu LLC for a special-use permit to convert an existing, commercial structure at 131 E. Main St. into a greater number of dwelling units and up to 60 feet in height. The property, zoned C-2 commercial, lies in the Historic Overlay District.
• A request by Doug Ichiuji for a special-use permit to allow a short-term rental at 200 E. Main St. The property, zoned C-2 commercial, lies in the Historic Overlay District.
• A request by Aaron Hike for a special-use permit to allow a short-term rental at 1116 N. Royal Ave. The property, zoned C-1 commercial, lies in the Entrance Corridor Overlay District.
• A request by Life Point Church for a special-use permit to allow for a daycare in the church at 1111 Shenandoah Ave. The property is zoned C-1 commercial.
• A request by The Minick Group LLC for a special-use permit to allow a short-term rental at 206 Lee St. The property, zoned R-3 residential, lies in the Historic Overlay District.
Commissioners plan to discuss the five requests at their Oct. 5 before holding public hearings, Merchant said.
– Contact Alex Bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org
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