The Greene County Planning Commission unanimously voted last week to recommend banning tourist lodging from all R-1 residential neighborhoods after residents have asked for it for more than a year. The Planning Commission makes recommendations for final decision to the Board of Supervisors, which will hold a public hearing on the issue Tuesday, Sept. 28.
In June 2018, at the request of a resident, the county approved short-term tourist lodging in R-1 zones under the special use permit (SUP) process that allows neighbors the opportunity to speak at public hearings and permits the supervisors to place conditions on the property that mitigate the impacts, such as the number of guests. Tourist lodging is allowed by-right in A-1 agriculture zoning and C-1 conservation zoning. If a neighborhood has a proper homeowners association, it is legally able to limit Airbnbs and other short-term lodging in that neighborhood.
The Board of Supervisors asked the Planning Commission to look at the ordinance to see if there were possible minimum conditions for parcels in R-1 to be utilized for tourist lodgings and after its Aug. 18 meeting, the commissioners were in agreement they were going to recommend removing the ordinance.
At the Aug. 18 Planning Commission meeting, Greene County Director of Planning and Zoning Administrator Jim Frydl told the commissioners there had been seven applications for tourist lodging in R-1 with two denied in the last year; all but one had been in Greene Mountain Lake.
Ten people spoke during the public hearing Sept. 15—with all but one in favor of banning tourist lodging from R-1 neighborhoods. One person read a statement by a neighbor in Greene Mountain Lake and two emailed comments—all against tourist lodging in R-1 zones.
“Just wanted to remind you that I live in an R-1 zoned neighborhood and I want to highlight three points as to why tourist lodgings should be prohibited: number one, the SUP runs with the land; number two, our county’s enforcement issues—we just don’t have the manpower; and number three, the overwhelming opposition to this ordinance … their voices should matter—our voices should matter,” said Doug Roberts.
Gwen Baker, who does not live in an R-1 zoned neighborhood, told the commission she stands with the residents who do and have said over and over they do not want it to continue.
Paige Roberts said banning tourist lodging in R-1 neighborhoods will not hamper the county’s tourism ability.
“So just prior to this, I went on to Airbnb.com and searched Greene County, Virginia, for short term rentals and came back with 196 listings for under 30 days,” she said. “I then narrowed my search and looked specifically at R-1 neighborhoods and found a total of no more than eight; the website doesn’t delineate by zoning districts. What we’re talking about tonight is an ordinance that currently accounts for less than 1% of all tourist lodging in Greene.”
Commissioner Steve Kruskamp asked Frydl if the planning department had received a letter of support from the Greene County Tourism Council, and Frydl noted it had not.
Commissioners Mike Traber, John McCloskey and Ron Williams were attending the meeting remotely under a May 11, 2021, resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors authorizing hybrid and remote meetings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think many of the citizens have made the case (against). We mentioned it at the last meeting. Having not seen any strong evidence to the contrary, I am very much in favor of this removal (from the zoning ordinance) at this point, recommending removal by the Board of Supervisors,” Traber said.
“I agree with Mr. Traber,” McCloskey said. “We have this as SUP under R-1 and we see where citizens stand and I think the point needs to be made that it’s really just one subdivision that’s experiencing this, but I am ready to remove this from R-1 in the county.”
Kruskamp made the motion to recommend removal from the zoning ordinance in R-1 zoning and Williams seconded.
Supervisors will hold a public hearing at on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at 40 Celt Road, Stanardsville.