The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted on a new version of Hall County's short term rental ordinance at Thursday night's voting meeting, striking a balance between the concerns and rights of property owners desiring to rent their properties on a short term basis and the well being of neighboring property owners.
Hall County Commission Chairman Richard Higgins said the newest version of the ordinance was carefully crafted following input from numerous citizens.
"I'd like to thank the citizens and groups whom we've heard from concerning changes to the short term rental ordinance," Higgins said. "We are thankful that our county is a vacation destination for people, and we want to balance the concerns and rights of property owners desiring to rent their properties on a short term basis with the welfare of their neighboring property owners."
The latest version of the ordinance allows for short-term rentals as a permitted use in properties zoned Vacation-Cottage (V-C). As passed Thursday night, the new ordinance also opens up short-term rentals to properties zoned Residential I (R-I) with approval from the Hall County Planning Commission that are within 500 feet of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property or are located within subdivisions with 10 lots or less.
In addition, properties zoned AR-III and AR-IV properties have also been permitted for short-term rental use with the approval of the Planning Commission.
"Since Agricultural Residential III (AR-III) and Agricultural Residential IV (AR-IV) properties are located in less densely populated areas, the use of these properties as short-term rentals will have a minimal impact on neighboring properties," said Higgins.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the board voted in favor of requiring all short-term rental properties, no matter the zoning, to adhere to a two-night minimum stay.
Short-term rental property owners will still be required to obtain a business license and pay all required excise tax; however, the age of the local contact person, who has access to the short-term rental property, has increased from 18 to 21. In another change since the last public hearing, the name of that local contact person or the business license holder will no longer be required to be visibly listed on the outside of the residence. Additionally, all vehicles are required to be parked on hard surface areas such as concrete, gravel or asphalt.
Once a business license for a short-term rental property is obtained, the County will mail a notice at the County's expense to all residences within 500 feet of the property, notifying neighbors that such a license has been issued," said Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala. "The notification will also include information regarding how to file any complaints about the property."
A previous version of the ordinance required that notification be mailed at the licensee's expense and mailed at the time of renewal in addition to the initial issuance.
The previously considered version of the ordinance also required a responsible person be designated with each rental party to be held responsible for ensuring that all occupants and/or guests of the short-term rental comply with all applicable rules, laws and regulations. While that requirement has not changed, the age of the responsible person has increased from 21 to 25.
"With Lake Lanier as a nationwide tourist destination and Hall County's proximity to both the Appalachian mountains and the metro area, short-term rentals have become extremely popular here," Hall County District 3 Commissioner Scott Gibbs said. "As this type of activity grows, we will continue to evaluate this process to ensure Hall County maintains a welcoming environment for tourism and a high quality of life for our permanent residents."
Penalties for violating any of the requirements range from a written notice of violation and a fine not to exceed $250 for the first violation, up to $1,000 for the third violation and having one's business license revoked.