Page 12

Page 12 • Warren & Frederick County Report • Mid August, 2014

Short-term rentals

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“I don’t feel comfortable with where we’re at with it … what are we going to do, just say no?” – Richard Traczyk on county short-term rental policy

County backs off short-term rental cease & desist orders By Roger Bianchini Warren County Report Potential legal issues stemming from their handling of a slew of shortterm rental permit applications and permit reviews were addressed at an Aug. 5 work session of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard Traczyk requested the discussion. Traczyk observed that the current situation began with the board’s rejection (with his lone vote of dissent) of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application of Tareq Salahi for his residence in Mosby Overlook Estate. That 4-1 vote to deny Salahi’s application, reversed a unanimous county planning commission recommendation for approval. However, during the commission’s discussion of the Salahi application it was observed that while the commission based recommendations solely on applicable county codes, it was the elected board’s role to add peripheral considerations such as public opinion or POA covenants into the decision-making process. Traczyk said of pending action on

seven subsequent short-term rental CUP applications or reviews, “I don’t feel comfortable with where we’re at with it … what are we going to do, just say no?” In the wake of Salahi’s legal challenge of the board denial of his request, Traczyk explained his discomfort came from the potential appearance of an “arbitrary and capricious” decision-making process by the supervisors. In fact, the agenda packet included a letter addressing a cease and desist order sent to a property owner permitted by the county for short-term rentals in 2012 – “I do not understand why the owners that received cease and desist letters have to cancel the bookings they already had on the books. Many renters book months ahead and especially at this time of year, it is their long-planned vacation that they now have to find new lodging for,” the letter signed “Chris and Steve, Rainbow Views,” stated. “I hope the publicity this subject is getting does not create a public relations nightmare that Warren County is anti-tourist,” the Rainbow Views letter concluded (what the heck, the

county’s already established itself, and the Town of Front Royal by association, as anti-Appalachian Trail hiker with its 2013 refusal to allow hiker hostel as a use by Conditional Permit anywhere in the county – why not throw short-term rental tourists into the mix?!!?). However, board Chairman Dan

Murray said, “That is a short time to cut someone’s vacation off.” Murray suggested that as long as all business fees and taxes were up to date, permitted short-term rental operations be allowed to continue pending completion of permit reviews. County staff concurred with that short-term solution on existing per-

A Day at Clem’s Garage

mits. However, a long-term perception of Warren County as a generally unfriendly place for visitors, whether they hike or drive into the community, may continue to fester as the board ponders its future relationship to various aspects of the tourist community.

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Mid August 2014 Warren and Frederick County Report  

Local news for Front Royal, Linden, Bentonville, Browntown, Middletown, Stephens City, Winchester, Warren County and Frederick County, Virgi...