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Early September, 2014 • Warren & Frederick County Report • Page 23

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Board proceeds with caution on short-term rentals High Knob, two other CUP applications tabled pending zoning review

Keith Hartke makes his case for a short-term rental use of his High Knob property.

High Knob resident Melissa Knight makes the case against Hartke’s rental business.

By Roger Bianchini Warren County Report

on Jason Miller’s operation on Blue Mountain. Miller also operates a winery on town property, he noted in comments to the board. Tabling allows the operations already permitted or paying taxes on their operations to continue rentals pending a final decision. Fourteen of the 18 public hearing speakers on the Hartke-High Knob application opposed the permitting. The general consensus of opponents was that such short-term rentals had a detrimental impact on what is essentially a residential neighborhood. While the majority of opponents focused on general dangers from cooking fires, driving the gated, mountain community’s narrow, winding roads, 4-wheeling or interacting with the mountain’s wildlife, three speakers pointed to danger to children from potential out-of-state criminal elements they surmised such outsiders might be. Saying she had observed license plates from 13 different states going

After a lengthy public hearing with 18 speakers addressing the first of three Conditional Use Permit applications for short-term rental operations, this one on High Knob, the Warren County Board of Supervisors decided to proceed with exceptional caution. That caution was tabling any action on all three applications pending a review of applicable county zoning codes on such businesses. Following Happy Creek Supervisor Tony Carter’s motion to deny the application of Keith and Kimberly Hartke for continuation of their short-term rental on High Knob, Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard Traczyk presented his counter motion to table. Traczyk repeated earlier concerns that the supervisors could appear to be acting in “an arbitrary and capricious� manner regarding such appli-

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cations. “And let’s face it, we are basing decisions on how many people show up and make the most noise at a public hearing,� Traczyk told his colleagues of the board’s trend on such controversial issues. While Traczyk offered that he might agree with High Knob residents who don’t want such operations “next door� altering their perception of the character of their neighborhood, added, “I don’t know how that relates to property rights or the law.� Carter, in whose district High Knob lies, was the lone vote against tabling the matter pending further input from planning staff and commission. Carter then joined the majority in voting to table two subsequent applications for existing operations, one across from Andy Guest State Park and one on Blue Mountain Road. All of five speakers on the river property of Paul and Jennifer Hill spoke in favor of the application and there were no speakers other than the applicant

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to the Hartke property as short-term renters, Melissa Knight wondered how many of those people might be a criminal element. She also worried over their ability negotiate High Knob roads that might have children playing in them. “I ask you to consider our children. All sex offenders must legally be registered – do this and you throw all that in the trash,� Jim Coates told the board of legal precautions alerting a community about past sex offenders locating among them. However, one pro-permit speaker noted that the one registered sex offender on High Knob was a resident, not a short-term rental visitor. Final public hearing speaker Chris Pollock urged the supervisors to follow the law, not emotion in reaching a decision.

“I’m confused – we’re holders of a permit and if the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled it is a legal use of private property, are you just going to cave to public pressure? “And I hate the way our renters are being maligned. I enjoy talking to them and forming relationships with them,� Pollock said, disputing the negative characterization of shortterm renters as drunk, inconsiderate, reckless, criminal child molesters. However, one High Knob resident disputed the notion residents were being characterized in the paper or on social media as “a hostile community, not a hospitable community. – I think that is a scurrilous assertion. I’m not against this use overall in Warren County, just in our community,� Rosalie Noram told the board.


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Early September 2014 Warren and Frederick County Report  

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