The regulation of short-term rental homes has been a hot topic of discussion for the past two months at county meetings.
The Louisa County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing this evening on proposed changes to how the county handles short-term rentals, which include those rented by companies such as AirBnB and homes rented directly to customers. by the owners.
The majority of short-term rentals in Louisa are located within a five-minute drive of Lake Anna. This is because the lake attracts tourists from all over during warm seasons and some residents have seen it as an opportunity to open up their property to passing visitors.
The proposed settlement would require all owners of short-term rentals to pay a $50 registration fee to the county before opening their homes. In addition to the fees, the landlord must submit an application with a property management plan that demonstrates how the rental would be managed, either by a management company or self-managed.
Landlord tenants will also need to provide a copy of a liability insurance policy with coverage of at least $1 million. The insurance must remain in place at all times as long as the property is offered as a place of residence for others.
An annual inspection of the septic system would also be required to ensure that the septic system is adequately designed to accommodate the maximum occupancy of the property. Septic tank wear and tear was a concern for the Louisa County Board of Supervisors when mention of possible regulations first came up.
“I think every home in Louisa should have annual septic inspections. This is the routine maintenance that I perform on my house regardless of my rental status. I have yet to see evidence that having more than maximum occupancy in a house will cause the system to fail. The council can’t show it, people who want regulation only for short term rentals can’t show it. Where is the proof? said short-term rental owner Marvin Ward.
The occupancy threshold will also be regulated. According to proposed changes to the county ordinance, there should be no more than two visitors per room. This is mainly because if there are too many people in a house that does not have a septic system designed for maximum occupancy, it could lead to system failure.
“Occupancy by-laws would not only ensure the proper use of septic tanks, but would reduce much of the traffic in neighborhoods,” said Barbara Coe, a resident of the Overton Fork housing estate on the lake. “The issue of occupation is also a matter of neighborhood security. By regulating who stays home, if something were to happen, we could easily find out who might have done it,” she continued.
“I’m not against the regulations, but I think they specifically target short-term rentals,” Ward said. “Most of these regulations could easily apply to all homes in Louisa, regardless of rental status. I know people around the lake who don’t use their house as a rental but have friends, family and colleagues on weekends who I’m sure exceed the maximum occupancy of the house,” he continued.
John Romano, who developed the Noah’s Landing subdivision on the lake and rents boats to visitors, warned the proposed regulations could force some owners out of the short-term rental market and cost the county significant tax revenue.
“I don’t think anyone has done a study to see what this is going to do,” he said.
He said the county and state already have excessive mandates on septic systems, requiring them to treat 75 gallons of water per person per day, when a more realistic figure would be 50 gallons. Rather than imposing limits on landowners, the county should toughen penalties for those who damage their septic fields, he argued.
In Noah’s Landing, Romano said, the challenges of short-term rentals have been solved by banning them in coves where homes tend to be closer together.
The planning commission hearing is scheduled after the start of the meeting at 7 p.m.
The commission will also hold a public hearing on changing the county’s large-scale solar regulations.
If the amendment is adopted, the new solar fields will have to be able to produce at least 151 megawatts. The change would eliminate smaller applicants such as SolUnesco, which won a conditional use permit in 2021 for a 15-megawatt, 100-acre solar project in Apple Grove.
The amendment would also cap the amount of land that can be used for utility-scale solar power at three percent of the county’s total area, or 9,800 acres.
There would also be changes in the cosmetic aspects of solar projects. Applicants should extend vegetated buffer zones 150 to 300 feet. Additional plantings, if any, should include four rows, rather than three, of evergreen specimens. The height required for these plantings would increase from 10 to 20 feet, although the county would also lengthen the growing period from three to 10 years.
If battery storage is applicable to a project, the amendment states that solar companies must locate and describe all proposed battery storage areas and address the potential threat of fire. The amendment also prohibits the disposal of solar panels at any landfill in the county.
Installation for special occasions
Larry Han and Jianjun Tang will go before the commission to apply for a conditional use permit for a special occasion facility on 225 acres off Evergreen Road. The facility would be used for events such as weddings, birthdays, bridal showers and baby showers.
The property has an existing conditional use permit ten years ago for a wilderness camp, but this facility was never developed.
Han and Tang also want to build twelve cottages on the land, while using the rest of the property for agricultural purposes.
County staff recommend permit approval with conditions, including no more than 300 people per event; no pyrotechnics; and limited event times between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.