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Avondale Estates considers further defining code related to short term rentals like Airbnb, Vrbo

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Avondale Estates considers further defining code related to short term rentals like Airbnb, Vrbo

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its April 13 meeting, continued discussing short-term rentals — like Airbnb and Vrbo — and asked city staff to come up with a definition for “kitchen” that will be applied to the zoning code.

There is one distinction in the zoning code when it comes to renting accessory dwelling units. If an accessory dwelling unit does not have a separate kitchen facility, then it can be considered a candidate for a short-term rental. But if an ADU has a separate kitchen facility, it can be rented out for 30 days or more, but not less than 30 days.

But the code does not define what constitutes a kitchen. Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said it’s important to clarify the definition.

“I think if you’ve got a full gourmet kitchen, obviously that’s one thing,” Fisher said. “If you’ve got a kitchenette that’s got a refrigerator and a microwave, that to me is not really a kitchen facility, but I don’t think it’s clear on [that].”

The city commission could amend the zoning code to add a definition of a kitchen in the glossary. It would take an ordinance to make that change, which would require two readings. The state zoning procedures law would also be triggered, so the city would have to hold a public hearing, public notice and involve the planning and zoning board, City Attorney Stephen Quinn explained.

City staff could also create an internal policy that defines what constitutes a kitchen to be used when reviewing conditional use permit applications

The Avondale Estates City Commission updated its zoning code in 2021. Before the zoning code rewrite, residents were not allowed to rent any portion of their property for any length of time. Under the new zoning code, short-term rentals are restricted in the following ways:

– Short-term rentals that are less than 30 days for an accessory dwelling unit are prohibited.

– Short-term whole house rentals are also not allowed.

– But with a conditional use permit and a business license, property owners who use their home as their primary residence, are on the premise and serve a meal can rent out space within that home for shorter periods of time and operate as a bed and breakfast.

To qualify for the conditional use permit and business license, the homeowner would have to be on site to rent out their space.

Since the last meeting on March 23 when the board began discussing short-term rentals, the city has received an inquiry about the conditional use permit application and city staff will walk that resident through the bed and breakfast process, City Manager Patrick Bryant said.

Mayor Jonathan Elmore said he is comfortable with the requirements laid out in the zoning code.

“I think that we are responding to a bunch of folks that are going to fit into that category of bed and breakfast, and I think that will be fine,” Elmore said. “I don’t personally see any reason to change the zoning as it is.”

Commissioner Dee Merriam continued to raise concerns that having people coming in for a few nights changes the nature of a residential neighborhood.

“While having someone rent your accessory dwelling unit does not conflict with that basic understanding of what our residential area is all about, that inviting people to come in on a nightly or even weekly basis does subtract from the nature and our sense of community that we have in our neighborhood,” Merriam said.

She added that the bed and breakfast requirements is a compromise that allows residents to have people stay at their house.

“I think that if we’re trying to maintain the residential nature of our community, of our residential section, I’m very concerned about the idea of promoting a situation where you have people come, and it would be hard to manage whether or not the owner is on premise or not,” Merriam said.

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