Adjustment board denies use of residential home as AirBNB

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 21, 2018

In July, Matt West was notified by city officials to cease and desist renting his house on Spradley drive short-term. The board of adjustment solidified that order Thursday by denying his request for an exception to allow him to resume renting the residence.

Residents of neighboring households came to voice their opposition to the allowance Thursday.

“I’ve lived on Spradley Drive almost 40 years and seen a lot of change in our neighborhood,” said James Dunkin. “One of the things I’d like to mention is that a prior board turned down a prominent doctor from having a business in our neighborhood and turned down nurseries for kids in our neighborhood. We don’t want a business in our neighborhood. I don’t know Matt, and I understand what he’s trying to do. But this is going to set a precedent.”

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“I bought my house (on Spradley) because of the neighborhood it’s in; I would hate to see anything commercial move in it,” added Al Slaughter.

Board member Perry Green, who made the motion to deny the request, said the opposition of the neighbors made the denial an obvious choice.

“There’s nothing in the code that allows this,” Green said. “The neighbors clearly didn’t want it. And it would set a precedent.”

In addition to the public comments, board member Jack Norton said he received a call from a member of the city council that had 25 people against the allowance and planning administrator Melissa Sanders said she received four or five calls in opposition.

West said he regrets not speaking more during the meeting.

“I wish I had spoken more and tried to explain better what was going on,” West said. “I knew they would have fears and concerns. I don’t think anybody knew what was going on the whole year I rented it out; I don’t think it bothered a soul. I wish I had spoken to thtat more in the meting – it didn’t really hit me until after I left that it’s not like a normal business. I’m not renting it out like a hotel or a business like that, someone just needs to stay there and I allow it and they pay me.”

West said only single families have temporarily lived in the residence, which is actually his full-time residence although he travels often for work.

He does not plan to pursue the matter further at this time. “I don’t know of anything else to do.”

West said he does hope that the city continues to look into creating specific regulations within the zoning ordinance to allow short-term rentals that have become more popular over recent years due in part to peer-to-peer platforms such as AirBNB and Homeaway that connect people renting residences to tourists looking for a short-term stay.

Sanders said city officials are looking into what other cities have done to address short-term rentals, but she had no information at the time about what the city has researched.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a variance for a three-story 72-bedroom apartment complex adjacent to South Brundidge, Center, and Smith streets.

Another apartment complex at 508 and 512 E. Madison St. took a bit of discussion between the board and Walt Stell, the applicant.

The proposal was to allow for a density variance to allow for more units than allowed under code. The code allows for 10 units but Stell was asking for 20 units to be allowed.

Stell said the developer wanted to have 20 one-bedroom units instead of 10 two-bedroom units to better tailor the complex to CGI employees and other young professionals.

“We feel this would be a good unit for them,” Stell said.

But the board struggled with allowing twice as many units as what is typically allowed. After a Green motioned to deny even an 18-unti proposal, Stell and the developer asked if the board would consider allowing a 16-unit complex, which the board unanimously approved.