County approves short-term vacation rental amendment

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners approved a text amendment to the zoning ordinance that will regulate short-term rentals.

Troup County began working to update its zoning code after recognizing an increase in short-term vacation rental operations, such as those offered through Airbnb, Vrbo and others, where guests rent properties for fewer than 30 consecutive days.

Community Development Director Troy Anderson said the county’s current code does not address the rentals as a business enterprise, so special use permits have been used to regulate them in the absence of a specific code.

The lack of a specific code leaves the county at risk of being unable to enforce any regulations on vacation rentals, Anderson said.

On Sept. 20, the board of commissioners approved a 60-day moratorium on short-term rentals with the intent to pause the new applications, so that the county code could be updated to regulate for these types of businesses. The

Anderson said county staff have written a text amendment to address definitions for the short-term vacation rentals and regulate conditions such as noise prohibition, parking restrictions, lighting, occupancy limitations to the dwellings and duties of the agent. The limited regulations would align with zoning changes planned for the county’s upcoming Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

“The end goal is to develop an extensive regulation with the UDO to be adopted in late spring of 2023,” Anderson said.

The zoning text amendment will also allow for the county to appropriately collect hotel-motel taxes from short-term vacation rentals.

The Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission approved the proposed text amendment and added some conditions to be considered. Anderson said county staff agrees that the conditions proposed would be positive additions to the UDO, but they need to be separate from the zoning text amendment that was proposed.

Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead asked if the change would address issues where people are using the short-term vacation rentals to host large parties, which can cause disturbances for neighbors.

Anderson said the ordinance will limit the number of occupants inside the rentals based on the number of bedrooms throughout the entire day, not just at night. They would be limited to two persons per legitimate bedroom, plus two additional persons.

If the operators of short-term vacation rentals allow their guests to violate the regulations, they can potentially have their business license revoked or even be cited if violations continue.

“I don’t want to do anything to hurt good people that are trying to make a living, but also want to be able to have teeth in there from somebody doing something wrong,” Commissioner Lewis Davis said, noting many of the current short-term rentals are in his district because of West Point Lake.

Commissioners unanimously approved the zoning text amendment to define and regulate short-term rentals.