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Homeowner requests a deferral for tourist-lodging special permit

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A homeowner in Greene Mountain Lake requested a deferral right before the Greene County Board of Supervisors was about to vote on a special use permit (SUP) to allow short-term lodging.

After the public hearing and board members had made comments regarding what could have been the fourth permitted tourist-lodging in the R-1 residential neighborhood, Paul Newman interrupted before a motion was made to ask the board if he had the right to defer.

“You do,” said Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville). “We’re going to need to look at timing as to whether it could happen at the next meeting.”

Newman asked it be placed back on the supervisors’ agenda at the Sept. 28 meeting, which will be after the Planning Commission holds its public hearing about the R-1 short-term lodging ordinance on Aug. 18. Tourist lodging is permitted by-right in A-1 agriculture and C-1 conservation districts.

There are already three homes in Greene Mountain Lake with an SUP. The Greene County Planning Commission had recommended approval of the permit 4-0 with conditions at its July 21 meeting. Commissioner Michael Traber was not present at the meeting.

The proposed location is a detached structure that serves as a workshop for the owners on the main floor and has a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment above. The Newmans’s primary home is located on a parcel next to the shop, originally built to be a mother-in-law suite for their mothers.

“The owner lives behind the structure and frequently uses the workshop,” said Greene County Director of Planning and Zoning Administrator Jim Frydl. “The comprehensive plan designates this area as rural.”

Conditions the planning commission recommended included only four guests onsite, not including children under age 5, no events permitted on the parcel, off-street parking is prohibited and vegetative buffer with neighboring property must be maintained at 25-feet tall and 10-feet wide.

All who either spoke during the public hearing or whose emails were read after the public hearing were against the SUP.

“I have been in the area since 1951,” said Judy Fitzhugh Estes. “I have been a property owner at Greene Mountain Lake for about 25 years and we are neighbors of the Newmans and they are wonderful people. I am here to say that I do not feel that Airbnb should be in the Greene Mountain Lake subdivision. We are densely populated (on) small lots.”

Doug Roberts said one reason he opposes SUPs is because they remain with the property even after the current owner has moved.

“Our neighborhood has been on the front lines of this debate for a year now,” Roberts said. “The truth is, as a community, we believe tourist lodgings are not compatible with R-1 neighborhoods.”

Martin asked if the county had received any complaints regarding the current owners, who have operated the structure as tourist lodging for several years without a permit.

“We work on a complaint basis,” Frydl said. “We don’t drive around to try to find Airbnbs that are operated without a permit. When they’re brought to attention (the county works to bring them into compliance). No (complaints) prior to the application. So, other than operating without a permit, we haven’t had any problems.”

Monroe Supervisor Steve Bowman said he’s opposed to short-term rentals in R-1.

“I just fundamentally don’t like the fact that a SUP resides with the property,” Bowman said. “I understand why. I understand the law. I just don’t like it. I don’t think it’s appropriate. What I see happening around the nation is investors and business people are buying up property and using it as an investment in a business to run Airbnbs.”

Midway Supervisor Marie Durrer said she also opposes short-term lodging in R-1.

“When we buy a home in a subdivision we hope to live there a good long time and know your neighbors, not (having) somebody coming in and out every week,” she said.

Ruckersville Supervisor Davis Lamb said he believes in property rights, but that neighbors also have property rights.

At-Large Supervisor Dale Herring said the SUP process was put in place to allow—mainly—residents to help supplement their mortgage.

“But also the SUP allows neighbors to come forward,” Herring said. “And we’ve had some petitions for and some petitions against. It also allows restrictions that can be put in place that can help mitigate some of the circumstances.”

Herring motioned for the deferral and Durrer seconded. It passed unanimously.


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Editor, Greene County Record

Terry Beigie is the Editor of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. She can be reached at or (434) 985-2315.

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