Dothan town commissioners have delayed action on regulating short-term rentals such as those listed on sites like Airbnb.
At their meeting on Tuesday, commissioners voted to file action on several agenda items that would have established regulations for such rentals after a question arose regarding insurance requirements for commercial rentals. short term.
The commission voted to relax the city’s current restriction on secondary suites. Previously, these units were only permitted as living quarters for family members. The change, which comes along with the city’s effort to pass short-term rental bylaws, now allows secondary suites to be used as rentals by non-family members.
Dothan planning and development director Todd McDonald said accessory living units are good to have as short-term rental options in the town. And these units are already being used to house non-family members despite city restrictions.
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“If an individual has a house and they have a secondary suite in the back, they could rent it out for short-term rentals,” McDonald said. “We recognize that this is the reality.”
Items tabled at Tuesday’s meeting included amendments to the commercial and zoning sections of the city’s ordinances code as well as an agreement with Avenu Insights and Analytics to provide short-term rental administration, collection data and audit for the city.
The commissioners plan to take up the issue again at their September 20 meeting.
Short term rentals are considered to be those lasting less than 30 days in Dothan City. With the growing market for such rentals – there are between 70 and 80 Dothan listings on Airbnb alone – complaints from residents who live near properties have been turned into short-term rentals.
Dothan planning staff have been working on regulating short-term rentals since last year, and the proposed rules divide short-term rentals into two categories: short-term residential rentals (STRR) and commercial short-term rentals. term (STCR). With an STRR, the owner lives in the property and the rental can be a room in the house or a secondary suite. For the STCR, the owner does not live on site.
Under the proposed regulations, both types of short-term rentals must be permitted with stipulations for quiet times, parking and number of guests. Owners of multiple rentals must each have a license. But with an STCR, there are additional requirements, including proof of commercial general liability insurance with minimum limits of $500,000 per occurrence and $1 million in total.
Kelly Wood is a short-term rental operator with one location near Southeast Health. The property, a full house, is considered a short-term commercial rental, but Wood said she was only renting the house so she could afford to offer it free to families in medical crisis with a loved one hospitalized in Dothan .
The insurance requirement is double what it currently has on the rental.
“I’m trying to fill a need in our city, but your extra regulations make it harder for a little person like me who doesn’t own multiple properties,” Wood said.
In response, the commissioners wanted to get more information to make sure the minimum insurance amounts are not excessive for the Dothan market.
Wood said she’s okay with licensing, collecting lodging taxes and ensuring people are handling their rentals properly. But she said it was discriminatory to impose certain requirements on owners of short-term rental properties and not on owners of long-term rental properties, in particular regarding the requirement for commercial liability insurance.
“I understand what you’re trying to do, and I appreciate some of that,” Wood said. “…But when you get down to it, when you read it all, you all dictate the kind of assurance we need to have. I mean, I feel like it’s a bit over the top.
In other business on Tuesday:
– The Dothan City Commission has approved the redistribution of the boundaries of the six city commission districts. The new boundaries were first presented to the city commission and the public in March following analysis by federal census staff. District lines were last adjusted in 2012.
– Commissioners voted to enter into an economic development agreement with Park West LLC to provide financial assistance in an amount not to exceed $2 million. Assistance will be phased in over 10 years based on sales tax revenues generated from retail sales in the development. Park West LLC plans to construct a new commercial building and upgrade other properties located at the corner of West Main Street and Ross Clark Circle, adjacent to the Circle West Shopping Center. The anchor tenant will be Burlington.
– During the administrative meeting, the commissioners heard an application for authorization to operate medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. The City Ordinance Code will need to be amended to create an appropriate classification of business licenses. Dothan Chamber of Commerce chairman Matt Parker said the chamber had received calls from parties interested in opening such dispensaries in the Dothan market. Dispensaries could sell medical marijuana to registered patients.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will be accepting applications for business license applications statewide through October 17. Only a limited number of licenses will be issued by the state commission for growers, processors, and dispensaries with annual license fees ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be reached at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.