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Citizens question Blue Ridge’s proposed Vacation Rental Ordinance

Blue Ridge, Georgia

By Elaine Owen, Editor

NOV. 13, 2018. Blue Ridge City Council held a special called meeting last week with Downtown Development Authority (DDA) expert Ann Arnold to answer questions about the proposed DDA. During this meeting, discussion of a proposed “Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance” showed many citizens did not understand and many did not approve of the city’s plans.
CJ Stam, with the Blue Ridge Lodging Association (BRLA), explained the Lodging Association’s position on rental properties in the city. He said, “We are not opposed to this—we actually appreciate it as we don’t mind having rules in place and this is an important issue to us…However, the application process the city requires seems a little cumbersome.”
Addressing questions about the proposed Ordinance not outlining specific areas for the rental properties, Stam stated, “It sounds to me like this Ordinance supersedes the zoning that is in place now and allows anybody to rent in any area as long as they have submitted an application.”
The Blue Ridge Lodging Association represents over 500 types of rental properties with 10 rental companies in the area. The proposed Ordinance specifies an application for a short term vacation rental certificate shall be submitted along with a non-refundable application fee to the City of Blue Ridge.

PROPOSED
APPLICATION MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

1. The name, address, telephone and email address of the owner(s) of record of the dwelling unit for which a certificate is sought. If such owner is not a natural person, the application shall identify all partners, officers and/or directors of any such entity, including personal contact information;
2. The address of the unit to be used as a short term vacation rental;
3. The name, address, telephone number and email address of the short term vacation rental agent, which shall constitute his or her 24-hour contact information and who shall:
a. Be reasonably available to handle any problems arising from use of the short term vacation rental unit;
b. Appear on the premises within 24 hours following notification from the City Clerk, Police Chief or the City Attorney, or his/her designee, of issues related to the use or occupancy of the premises.
c. Receive and accept service of any notice of violation related to the use or occupancy of the premises; and
d. Monitor the short term vacation rental unit for compliance with this ordinance.
4.The owner’s sworn acknowledgment that he or she has received a copy of this section, has reviewed it and understands its requirements;
5.The owner shall state the maximum occupancy for the residence, which shall be the same number as advertised and marketed to potential renters by or on behalf of the owner;
6. The owner’s agreement to use his or her best efforts to assure that use of the premises by short term vacation rental occupants will not disrupt the neighborhood and will not interfere with the rights of neighboring property owners to the quiet enjoyment of their properties;
7. A copy of an exemplar agreement between the owner and occupant(s) which obligate the occupant to abide by all of the requirements of the ordinance, and other City ordinances, state and federal law, and that such a violation of any of these rules may result in the immediate termination of the agreement and eviction from the premises, as well as potential liability for payment of fines levied;
8. Proof of the owner’s current ownership of the short term vacation rental unit; and
9. Proof of homeowner’s insurance.
B. Registration under this code section is not transferable and should ownership of a short term vacation rental change, a new application is required, including application fee. In the event of any other change in the information or facts provided in the application, the holder of the short term rental certificate shall amend the filed application without payment of any additional application fee.
See Next Week’s Fannin Sentinel for what Blue Ridge Council members decided on this important issue at the Dec. 11, 2018 meeting.

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