City considers regulations for housing issue

Published 8:30 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

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As more and more AirBnBs, VRBOs and other short-term rental locations pop up, the City of LaGrange could be following in the footsteps of the county to establish regulations on the businesses.

The LaGrange City Council discussed the issue during their work session on Tuesday after the Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals tabled discussion on any additional regulations.

City Planner Mark Kostial explained that after a spiritous discussion on whether to recommend any potential regulations, the board tabled them all in favor of further examining the issue to balance individual property rights and recommend limited if any, short-term vacation rental regulations.

The planning board believes that there are already sufficient ordinances in place to address short-term rental problems including disorderly house, noise and alcohol ordinances along with current parking regulations and drug laws.

The board did consider a list of potential regulations including:

  • A nontransferable Special Use Permit requirement. 
  • A registration and permit requirement for each rental
  • A requirement to designate a specific local point of contact who is on-call 24/7 and can respond to the rental within one hour.
  • Potentially capping the number of permits that can be issued annually.
  • Regulating zoning districts where short-term rentals would be permitted. 
  • Limiting the rentals to specific building types such as single-family detached homes.
  • No on-premises signs advertising.
  • Required posting of rental policies and regulations in all guest bedrooms.
  • Specific quiet hours such as dusk to dawn.
  • A prohibition on the use of sound amplification devices. 
  • Building code and fire code inspection requirements.

Kostial said that the planning board was unable to come to a consensus on a recommendation and tabled the issue until July for further discussion but the earliest it could come under consideration would likely be in August. The issue is a difficult one for many cities, he said.

“This issue is not unique for LaGrange,” Kostial said. “Roughly half the municipalities regulate short-term rentals and the others don’t but they all struggle with trying to balance property owner rights with regulating the rental units themselves.”

“The planning commission felt, in their opinion, we have sufficient ordinances in place — which we may or may not have — to address incidents that may materialize in short-term rentals. They want to take just a little bit more time before they make a recommendation,” he said.

Mayor Jim Arrington said that any potential short-term regulations need to be carefully considered but they need to be looked at sooner rather than later.

“This isn’t something I think we need to get into really fast just to do it and regret what we’ve done. But I think we have got to take our residents seriously. The only people that benefit from these are the people that own them and I think our residents are our first priority,” Arrington said.