By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Former Pulaski County supervisor Dr. Bruce Farris says preventing tourists from renting Claytor Lake homes for vacation will “help kill tourism in Pulaski County.”
The former Ingles District representative urged current members of the Board of Supervisors Monday night to steer clear of legislation that would prevent lake homes from being leased on a short-term basis. He said the lake is a “jewel” and should be available for enjoyment by everyone.
Some lake residents, including Charles Smith, complained to supervisors in June that large groups of partying vacationers are disrupting residential communities. They contend the rentals constitute a business and, therefore, are in violation of the county’s R-1 (residential) zoning regulations.
Smith presented the board with a Franklin County regulation that limits short-term (less than 30 days) tourist rentals at Smith Mountain Lake to specific zoning districts.
Franklin County’s ordinance also limits the number of occupants that can stay at one of the rentals. Smith says a three-bedroom home in his neighborhood is being advertised as five bedrooms accommodating 14 people, but 18 to 30 show up. “… And they party all night. The atmosphere for them is for a vacation and party place,” he said.
Pulaski County has requested an opinion from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on its ability to regulate the rental of any home.
Referring to the Franklin County definition of a short-term rental, Farris questioned what lake residents would think of a home being rented for 30 days of partying.
He asked that the board not adopt an ordinance like Franklin County’s, saying people complain that Smith Mountain Lake is too private (residential development has limited much lake access by the general public).
Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready pointed out that Franklin County’s ordinance has not been subject to any court challenges, so its constitutionality hasn’t been proven or disproven. He said the attorney general opinion should help clarify the county’s authority to place limits on residential rentals.
According to McCready, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned a Bedford County judge’s ruling that rental restrictions could be included in deed restrictions. He suggested that could prevent any restrictions being placed on residential rentals.