The Transylvania Times -

By Matt McGregor
Staff Writer 

City Council OKs Short-Term Rentals - Brevard, NC

 

March 23, 2017



Brevard City Council has approved short-term rentals in three of the city’s zoning districts: general residential, neighborhood mixed use and downtown mixed use.

The council approved the move during its regular meeting Monday. The approval included the amendment that instead of seeing an application to have a short-term rental the property owner must present their tax records.

A recent state law prevents local governments from regulating short-term rentals, including not allowing zoning officials to ask for an application.

To find out how many bedrooms a person who rents short-term rentals has, zoning officials will be allowed to defer to the tax records, which also indicates how many bedrooms a person has, according to City Planning Director Daniel Cobb.

The city’s Planning Board and council have been working on how to regulate, or not, short-term rentals for about 18 months.

In a later interview, Cobb said the Planning Board is happy with the outcome, and that it had taken a lot of back and forth to complete.

“Airbnbs got popular, and it became a hot topic in the town, and city council directed us to look into it,” Cobb said.

He said the process began in 2014 when the Planning Board got a call from someone claiming that a neighbor was renting a room for the weekend. The board started informally consulting a retired land-use attorney, and, originally, they classified a short-term rental as residential, which, Cobb said, the standard zoning regulation classifies as someone living in a house or apartment for 30 days or more.

“Then, a year later, as Airbnbs started picking up, we started getting more of these calls, so we got another interpretation for a short-term rental as a ‘lodging,’” Cobb said.

According to zoning regulations, Cobb said a “lodging” classifies as someone living in the dwelling for 30 days or less, but he said there wasn’t a clear place to state that in the ordinance.

When council was ready to vote on a final draft in 2016, the state law passed preventing local governments from regulating short-term rentals, so the planning board had to make more changes, said Cobb.

“We had to step back and redo the work and make some big changes,” Cobb said. “There is a fine line between what you can inspect as a zoning official in a residence as opposed to a business, and if someone is using his or her home as business, where do you draw the line?”

Cobb said he thinks a fair compromise has been reached.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s been a very successful project,” Cobb said.

In other news at Monday’s meeting:

•In budget requests, Tammy Hopkins, executive director of the Transylvania Arts Council, asked for a $10,000 grant.

“Thank you for the $10,000 we got last year,” Hopkins said. “What did we do with that money? We didn’t go on a cruise. We spent it promoting art activities, local artists, and arts and cultural organizations, and we spent it pitching Brevard as an art hub and arts destination.”

Bart Renner, County Extension director and vice-president of the board for the Transylvania Farmers’ Market, requested that their grant be renewed for the 2017/18 fiscal year.

“I work with farmers’ markets all across the state and I can tell you that this one is the best,” Renner said. “In 2016 we made almost a half million dollars in sales revenue. We have 76 registered vendors.”

Renner said 60 percent of total farm income is being made at the Saturday morning farmers’ market.

“That’s real money that is providing jobs,” Renner said. “This is definitely a huge economic investment for this county.”

Heath Seymour, executive director of the Heart of Brevard, requested a $30,000 grant, and said, in turn, $11,000 of that would be returned to the city for the Downtown Master Plan.

“We do a lot of festivals and events, such as the White Squirrel Festival, The Forth of July, Halloweenfest and the Twilight Tour, which brings in about 65,000 to 70,000 people in about five days, and that’s just one part of what we do,” Seymour said. “It’s a big thing to bring in that many people into town, and we will be continuing that this year as we have in past years.”

Randy Lytle, president of the Mary C. Jenkins Community Center, requested that the city provide a $25,000 grant to revitalize the community center.

“We have researched it and found that it would require approximately $50,000 to develop site plans and construction drawings,” Lytle said. “Through our own efforts, we have committed to raising $25,000, and we are seeking a matching grant from the city of Brevard.”

Lytle said the revitalization of the center would benefit the entire county, and that he sees the city of Brevard’s plan to develop the former Tannery property into a park as having a huge impact in bridging the gap between the neighborhood and the community.

“The development of the new facility will foster programs and services that help the community as a whole by increasing property values, providing safety, addressing social needs and enhancing the quality of life for the residents,” Lytle said.

•Mayor Jimmy Harris proclaimed the month of April as “The Month of the Young Child” in Brevard to “support investments in early childhood education and care.”

“Children are our resource, and we need to mentor them when they are young,” Harris said.

•Harris also proclaimed the month of April as “Alcohol Awareness Month” in Brevard to “encourage all efforts that will provide early education about alcoholism and addiction and increase support for individuals and families coping with alcoholism.”

Harris presented the certificate to Susan Matthews, director of Getting Ahead-Sharing House; Joe Cohen, an emergency medical doctor at Transylvania Regional Hospital and chairman of the C.A.R.E. Coalition; and Tim Powers, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Brevard College.

“For those of you who don’t know, the C.A.R.E. Coalition has as its mission to have Transylvania County free of drug abuse and drinking, and it’s to that extent that we seek to create policy systems and environmental change that will protect our youth and ensure a bright future,” Cohen said.

•Harris proclaimed April 4 to be “National Service Recognition Day” to “encourage residents to recognize the positive impact of national service in our county; to thank those who serve; and to find ways to give back to their communities.”

•Harris presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the Transylvania Sheriff’s Department and Inmate Work Crew to recognize “the citizens of Brevard and to the Brevard Fire Department by painting more than 500 fire hydrants resulting in a cost savings of $4,500 dollars to the city and its citizens.”

 
 

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