Thursday, October 6, 2011

Asheville, NC Unanimously Approves VRs in Residential Zones

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Mountain Xpress
Asheville, NC

At its Oct. 4 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners:

• Unanimously approved new rules allowing vacation rental homes throughout the county, including in residential areas. At the public hearing, proponents of the measure asserted that it will spur the economy and that vacation homes were allowed, without significant trouble, before the county implemented zoning in 2009. However, opponents of the measure said it would open up residential neighborhoods to commercial activity, and that the rule changes were developed for private interests in an un-transparent way.

Asheville Citizen-Times
by Clarke Morrison

ASHEVILLE — Buncombe County commissioners voted Tuesday to allow vacation rentals in all county zoning districts, settling an issue closely watched by neighborhood groups and property owners.

New units had been prohibited in the most restrictive residential zones since December 2009, when countywide zoning when into effect.

The board approved the change in the zoning ordinance unanimously at the conclusion of a public hearing.

Critics contended vacation rentals are an unwanted intrusion into neighborhoods, bringing unwanted traffic and noise.

But Andrew Brooks, who owns a vacation rental property, said the concerns are unwarranted and the units cause few problems.

“I think the proposal before you is a good one,” he said. “Vacation rentals do not deteriorate property values.”

Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton said the units are typically rented by families looking for a short vacation in a rural setting.

Commissioners Chairman David Gantt noted the issue had been discussed since December, and the county Planning Board voted 5-1 last month to recommend the change.

“I think it’s really been something that’s had a lot of community input,” Gantt said.

Backers said the change would help the economy and the housing market by bringing more tourists to the area and allowing another use for houses in unincorporated areas.

“We’re seeing a lot of folks who can’t sell their properties,” said Chip Craig, owner of GreyBeard Realty in Black Mountain.

The ordinance amendment approved by the commissioners specifies that vacation rentals are only allowed if a unit is rented for two nights or more at a time.

The ordinance also provides that complexes of three to 10 rentals would not be allowed in more restrictive residential zoning districts and building them in other districts would require special permission. Complexes with 11 or more units would generally fall under zoning rules for hotels and motels.

The county rules apply only in areas not subject to municipal zoning.

Asheville allows rentals for less than a month only in commercial and other nonresidential areas.

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