Hilliard City Council is to take additional time to ponder policy for short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns in the Old Hilliard district.
An ordinance before City Council on June 13 to allow all styles of residences in Old Hilliard as potential sites for short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns was postponed until July 11.
The ordinance was introduced May 23 and progressed to a second and final reading June 13, where council members postponed consideration.
It appears probable that the legislation is to arrive back to City Council in amended form.
Hilliard City Manager Michelle Crandall asked that City Council postpone the legislation to allow staff the time necessary to craft a revised policy that was “thoughtful.”
The revised legislation could consider a policy outlining how would-be owners or operators of bed-and-breakfast inns and short-term rentals in Old Hilliard would register, as well as outlining enforcement measures, according to Crandall.
It could establish a policy to allow such facilities in Old Hilliard on a trial basis or as a pilot program for a proscribed period of time, said Crandall.
Further, it could regulate parking or cap the number of people allowed to occupy a property based on its size, according to Crandall.
But as proposed, the ordinance would allow all residences of at least 800 square feet to be eligible as host sites for short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns without further considerations.
That is not sitting well with some Norwich Street residents who made their concerns clear June 13.
“As elected representatives of the city of Hilliard, you have an obligation to represent the residents of Hilliard. Those residents living on Norwich Street are sick and tired of the changes you want to make to our street,” said Colin Knell.
The proposal of bed-and-breakfast inns and short-term rentals in Old Hilliard is “another example of the wildly different vision” members of City Council have about Old Hilliard than do its residents, said Hayden Kimes.
“It is clear the interests of Old Hilliard residents are not being represented.”
The proposal to allow short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns in the Old Hilliard district arrived to City Council with a positive recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning commission.
Commission members May 12 unanimously recommended that City Council amend the city code to add “short-term rentals” and “bed-and-breakfast inns” as permitted uses in the Old Hilliard mixed-use district and the Old Hilliard residential district, and to add associated development standards.
The text originally called for buildings of at least 1,500 square feet to be eligible for short-term rental and bed-and-breakfast status, but commission members reduced the required square footage for such status to 800 square feet, according to David Ball, director of community outreach for Hilliard.
The proposal originally limited eligibility to single-family residences in the Old Hilliard district, but City Council May 23, during the introduction and first reading of the ordinance, unanimously amended the ordinance to expand the eligible sites to all residences in the Old Hilliard district.
The proposal was brought forward to address ambiguity in city code as to whether bed-and-breakfast inns and short-term rentals are considered commercial or residential uses, according to city planner John Talentino.
Hotels are a conditional use in Old Hilliard, but it is not clear whether bed-and-breakfast inns or short-term rentals, such as those marketed as an Airbnb, qualify in the same manner, said Talentino.
Andy Warnock, chief executive officer of The Westwood Collective, said his company has identified three potential sites – two on Main Street and one on Norwich Street – as potential Airbnb sites.
The locations are intended to be quaint, Warnock said in response to criticism from some quarters about clientele.
“It is inviting unsavory characters,” Knell told ThisWeek News May 23.
Speaking to City Council, Warnock said he believes he and opponents have the same vision for Old Hilliard but a difference of opinion on achieving it.
“(These are) not a party pad, but rather a high-end, distinctively-furnished home that provides a unique experience to our guests,” Warnock said.
Warnock said he plans to use Airbnb, but not exclusively.
“VRBO is another site and we will do some self marketing outside of the national platforms.”
He said it is an important distinction as Airbnb and bed-and-breakfast inns are not the same.
An Airbnb is a lightly regulated home-sharing site, while bed-and-breakfast inns are subject to state and local lodging laws, just like a large hotel chain, according to Warnock.
Warnock said June 14 that he will delay the opening of the Norwich Street guest house until after July 11 “out of respect to the neighbors of Old Hilliard and for the legislative process.”
Warnock expressed concern to council members June 13 that it was considering action that could prevent him from marketing property in which he already invested.
“We are optimistic city leadership will find a compromised position to regulate short-term rentals without significant red tape while insuring the fabric of our city’s downtown remains intact,” Warnock said.