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Troup County talks vacation rental policy

On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners discussed regulations regarding vacation rentals and online lodging rental services like Airbnb.

The discussion was prompted by an application for a bed and breakfast special use permit for a home on North Whitewater Trail. The owner of the property was already renting out the property for short term and long term guests when he learned that under county ordinance he needed a special permit to do so.

“We do have a section in the Troup County Zoning Ordinance that deals with Bed and Breakfast Inns, which is what we are treating this special use permit as,” County Planner Tracie Hadaway said. “He operates more of a vacation rental. They live in it maybe one or two weekends a month and rent out the remainder on VRBO [the Vacation Rental By Owner website], AirBnb and other online services.”

The county’s ordinance does not specifically address the use, but Hadaway said short term and long term vacation rentals will be reviewed during the Unified Development Ordinance rewrite. The use is currently allowable in all residential districts in unincorporated Troup County.

“There are other people operating businesses out of their homes as AirBnb and VRBO, short term, long term, whatever it might be,” said Adam Dudenhoueffer, the owner of the property. “If I’m going to be regulated and held to certain standards, I would expect everyone else to as well. That being said, I do feel like there is some refining that needs to be done to the current ordinance.”

Dudenhoueffer questioned parts of the ordinance that seem to have been created with bed and breakfasts in mind instead of vacation rentals like references to the number of rooms for guests, food preparation areas and lit emergency exit signs. Commission Chairman Patrick Crews thanked Dudenhoueffer for bringing the concerns to the commission’s attention.

Commissioner Lewis Davis asked how other counties typically handle vacation rental uses. Hadaway said that those uses are often handled under similar regulations to bed and breakfasts in other counties as well.

“A lot of them are treating them as bed and breakfasts [because] most everyone has a bed and breakfast as part of their ordinance,” Hadaway said. “Most of them require a special use permit. Some of them like Savannah, Hall County, I think, has just amended theirs. Because of the proliferation of AirBnbs, it is becoming a lot more common. … Most of them are managing them through their existing bed and breakfast [ordinance].”

The Troup County Board of Commissioners also discussed how other possible concerns that could arise including signage requirements, rental locations and hotel/motel taxes. If approved, the property will need to receive an inspection from the fire marshal and a building inspector. The owner will also need to pay hotel/motel tax on stays lasting less than 10 days and have an active business license.

It was state in the meeting that Senior Building Official Jay Anderson will be contacting other owners of homes in the county, which are rented through websites.

Troup County staff and the zoning board both recommended approval, and the board of commissioners is scheduled to vote on the special use permit on Feb. 5.

Other items covered in the meeting included:

The Troup County Board of Commissioners voted to make Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead the vice chairman of the commission.

The board of commissioners approved the purchase of four custom fire trucks to replace trucks that have been in service for decades. Troup County Fire Chief Dennis Knight said that the custom fire trucks would last longer according to numerous sources and would better serve the counties needs due to their maneuverability and maximum weight allowance.

The commission declared a roll off truck and old 911 phone system technology as surplus.

The commission voted to lift the hiring freeze for a part time community service supervisor, a part time purchasing department employee and two full time drivers in the sanitation department.

The commission also approved a mobile home placement on Gray Hill Road.

The commission held a hearing for updates to airport zoning at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Jan. 31 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.