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Commissioners talk rules for short-term vacation rentals
County attorney: more fine-tuning needed for ordinance
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A new ordinance aimed at limiting short-term rentals of homes through online services such as Airbnb will take a little more work, based on a recent board of commissioners meeting.

Forsyth County Commissioners discussed the ordinance and held a public hearing on Thursday regarding proposed regulations.

“It really is a difficult regulatory environment for us to regulate these,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “Neighbors, who think they live in a residential subdivision, are watching volumes of people come into these weekend rentals.”

The matter will be discussed further at a work session on Tuesday.  

The plan is to set up a permitting system, and Jarrard said the difficulty comes from not knowing which homes are being used for rentals since it is not revealed on the website until payment is given.

Jarrard said the fee would be $300 for a permit and $150 to renew. 

Since August, commissioners have discussed how to deal with the rentals, which are particularly popular in the summer and on Lake Lanier.

Neighbors have told commissioners of their issues with excessive noise, trash being left behind and renters who host parties that go late into the night.

On Thursday, two neighbors living around the lake told commissioners about a house in their Lake Lanier-area neighborhood. David Neal said the house had 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and has had loud parties going into the night.

“You’ve got 40-plus people yelling and swimming and jumping off the balcony into the pool,” Neal said. “I wouldn’t have built there if I knew that I was going to live next to a public swimming pool.”

One of the property’s owners, John Carter, said his rentals were for seven days — contrary to claims that they were only for the weekend — and said he has turned down about half of those that wanted to use the property. 

“We do extreme vetting on any of the tenants that come. We turn down at least 50 percent of the people that apply,” he said. “There has never once been [as claimed] 40 adults going crazy at that property. They are typically family reunions or corporate retreats.”

Jarrard said there was more work ahead of the county to fine-tune the ordinance.

“My recollection of the [previous work session] is the board was struggling with this,” Jarrard said at the meeting. “What I mean by that is balancing the rights of property owners versus balancing the rights of neighbors to enjoy their property as well.”