Town considers zoning and tax implications for short term vacation rentals

by Madison White Franks

KILMARNOCK —The town’s discussion on short term vacation rental homes began with the Kilmarnock planning commission Monday night.

Planning and zoning director Marshall Sebra said it is necessary to begin talking about this topic due to its growing popularity.

“We have one residential property in town that is being advertised and used as a tourist short term rental home, outside of bed and breakfasts,” said Sebra.

“There could possibly be more because they may not advertise for us to see them,” said commission member Les Spivey.

“We’re not collecting lodging tax on that and we need to iron that out, but our ordinance also does not allow tourist homes in our R1 residential district,” said Sebra.

“Personally, I think that any place that does this should be charged the tax to go with it,” said member John Raymond.

If a bunch of people started doing the short term vacation rentals, there will be competition among them and the bed and breakfasts and hotels, said Spivey.

He indicated that it would not be fair to impose a lodging tax on some and not others.

An ordinance needs to be in place to prevent inequity and to control the issue. Once it is brought to everyone’s attention that they have to have a permit and pay tax, it will cause some to stop doing it because they don’t want the bother, some will get the permit and others will try to hide, said Spivey.

Sebra said the town can approve a conditional use permit to cover any short term vacation rentals to include Airbnb and vacation rental by owner (VRBO).

“I think our situation is fairly simple because we already have a definition of tourist home; we may be able to change the definition a little bit but we already have the taxing process in place,” said Sebra.

“It’s simply not allowed in the R1 residential district right now. You’ll need a conditional use permit if you are in R1 residential district. So the real question is if you want to allow it or keep it like it is and say it’s not allowed period. But if you do that, then you are cutting out the opportunity for tourists to come in,” he said.

At the next meeting, Sebra will bring a related recommendation to the commission.


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