Thursday, December 8, 2011

VR Owners Speak Out in Rapid City near Mt Rushmore

Ruth Moon Journal staff | Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 6:45 am
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See ordinance text here:Proposed Ordinance
About 50 people packed into the council chambers of Hill City’s City Hall last night spent two hours arguing about an ordinance that would allow and regulate vacation homes in Pennington County.
The town is less than 15 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial and calls itself “a great launching point to see all that the Black Hills have to offer” on its website. Several people at the meeting own vacation lodging in the area, though many operate as hotels or bed and breakfasts rather than vacation homes.
The proposed ordinance, which has been in the works since May, will amend existing zoning restrictions that limit vacation rentals to general commercial and highway service districts. The amendment will regulate any owner who rents homes to vacationers for more than 14 days per year.
The four-page proposal would require vacation rental owners to have conditional use permits but would allow vacation home rentals in general and limited agricultural areas, and low density and suburban residential areas. It sets quiet hours for vacation rentals, a minimum renter age, occupancy limits and other regulations.
Larry McCaskell, who lives near Hill City and owns a guest ranch, said he thinks the new ordinance is great because it allows more vacation homes in the area. He thought some of the new regulations were too restrictive, such as a stipulation that vacation homes must be 300 feet from neighboring homes.
“I see vacation homes as a very positive thing,” he said. “I also think there’s some problems with vacation homes, and this ordinance addresses those.”
Many at the meeting were upset about a proposed sign requirement. Under the requirement, owners would have to post a sign near the road at each vacation home that labels the house a vacation home and gives information such as the home name and owner’s name and telephone number. Vacation home owners said this would be like posting a sign announcing locals could loot and party in the house during the off-season.
The quiet hours, maximum number of guests and age requirements are too restrictive to welcome vacation renters to the area, said Mark Ruddeforth, who lives near Hill City and owns a hotel. He also said that automatically revoking the conditional use permit if the homeowner sells the house is unnecessary. New owners would have to reapply for a permit and pay a fee.
“Why go through the revocation?” Ruddeforth asked. “It’s just another way to collect $300 and pass go.”
The Pennington County Planning Commission will hear the ordinance at its meeting Monday. A group of vacation home owners and managers chaired by Planning Commission chairman Charlie Johnson helped draft the proposed rules. Johnson said he thought it might take several meetings to finish hearing the ordinance, but the planning commission might make a decision to reject or approve the ordinance by early February.
Johnson said the meeting was helpful for his committee to think through the draft. The sign requirement seemed like a great idea to the committee, he said, and helped keep rental properties under control in other places, but he didn’t realize that rental owners would find it a security hazard.
“I think it went well. We learned a lot, I would say,” said Johnson. “I took a lot of notes with some new thoughts.”
Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8415 or ruth.moon@rapidcityjournal.com.

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