Oct
22
2019
Yellow Springs
56°
scattered clouds
humidity: 62%
wind: 11mph WSW
H 52 • L 50
Village Council

Council passes stricter AirBnB regulations

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Those wanting to start a new local AirBnB will now have to appear before Planning Commission, Village Council decided at its regular meeting on Monday, July 15.

The move comes after Council deliberated for months over changing the rules for AirBnBs and other transient guest lodging establishments, or TGLs. 

In a 4–0 vote, Council passed an ordinance changing TGLs from a permitted to a conditional use in the zoning code. That gives Planning Commission the power to add conditions to — or even deny — an application. 

On Monday, Council members justified their decision and discussed going even further to limit the growth of some types of TGLs in the village. 

Council member Kevin Stokes said the change was a “good starting place.”

“Overall, I think making the change to conditional is a positive move in terms of just having some modicum of accountability,” he said.

“It’s important that we do something,” Stokes added.

Council members have expressed worries that the proliferation of TGLs here may negatively impact neighborhoods and affordable rental housing. TGLs owned by nonresidents have been highlighted as especially concerning. 

Council President Brian Housh said he worries about TGLs “taking rentals off the market,” along with outside speculation.

“The other concern we’ve had is the fat cat that comes to town, sweeps through and buys up a bunch of properties and AirBnBs them out,” Housh said.

Although Council previously discussed requiring that all local TGLs be owner-occupied, Council did not take that step this week. 

According to Village Planner and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger at the meeting, there are currently 40 TGLs in town, an increase of four over last month. 

Of that total, 33 are owner-occupied, two are owned by Yellow Springs residents who don’t live on the property, one is owned by a Miami Township resident and four are owned by nonresidents, Swinger added.

In a meeting earlier this year, some TGL owners bristled at the possibility of TGL owners being required to live on the property, even though that group would be grandfathered in, Swinger reported. Village Solicitor Chris Conard has also flagged possible problems with defining “owner-occupied.”

But Housh said that possible change is still on the table.

“The owner-occupied piece is a way to make a bright line that could be clear policy,” Housh said. “Many other communities have done that,” he added.

He added that he was against a firm cap on the number of TGLs in the village, because they can provide additional income for some local residents.

“What we’re trying to do is allow people to stay in town,” Housh said. “If renting out a room in their house does that, that makes sense to me.”

TGLs were formerly a conditional use of the zoning code, but were changed to a permitted use when Council began taxing short-term stays in 2018, Swinger explained at the meeting.

When it was a permitted use, those wanting to start a TGL here only had to a fill out an application. Now TGL applicants must pay a $100 application fee and state their case in a public hearing before Planning Commission, of which neighbors will be notified. 

Swinger went on to explain that Planning Commission will consider “the location and its proximity to other [TGLs] and its impact on the neighborhood,” ensure there is at least one off-street parking space, require an inspection from the Miami Township Fire-Rescue squad and require smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, she said.

Neighbors would be sent letters inviting them to weigh in at a public hearing on a TGL in their neighborhood, which Swinger said “might deter some people.”

Swinger said Planning Commission recommends that Council review the TGL regulations in nine months.

Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen recused herself from both the discussion and vote because she runs a TGL in town.

Solar cap update

Village Manager Josue Salmeron updated Council on progress made since its last meeting on the residential solar cap. That cap, that 1% of total electricity generation be purchased by the Village from local residential solar arrays, was reached earlier this month, the Village had reported. 

Salmeron laid out the options the Village is considering for its interconnection agreements with the next group of local solar producers “a significant increase in the readiness-for-service charge, or making an electric rate adjustment.”

Salmeron reported that recently he met with local members of Solar United Neighbors, a new solar co-op behind efforts to install more residential solar here. Because that group hopes to get installations by the end of the year before certain tax benefits expire, Salmeron prepared a timeline for the new solar agreements. He will present the Village’s proposal to that group on Aug. 7 and a public discussion about it will occur at the Council meeting on Aug. 15.

Other items from Council’s July 15 meeting will be in next week’s News.

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