The Board of Commissioners deliberated permitting processes for short-term rentals at the latest work session on Tuesday, March 9. Commissioners also discussed the possibility of putting a crosswalk at the Nuckolls Road and Habersham Trace intersection. Commissioners did not make motions on either topic.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners followed up on permitting for short-term rentals during its work session on Tuesday, March 9, on the heels of a planning commission meeting in late February.
The planning commission recently discussed a request for a conditional-use permit, CUP, in northwest Forsyth. The land in the application is currently zoned as an agricultural district, A1, and backs up to a neighborhood off of Aaron Sosebee Road.
Neighbors in Gregory Estates told members of the board that they were concerned about the impact of the permit being allowed for a short-term rental near the subdivision. In a letter to the Forsyth County News, Pat Ploshay said residents of Gregory Estates are “concerned that our properties are in jeopardy of losing value.”
Some planning board members were concerned that, if there were to be “bad actors” staying at the short-term rental in the future, the county would have a difficult time taking away the permit. A CUP is an additional zoning, so in order to remove it, the county would have to go through the Zoning Procedures Act.
“What I think would make everybody a lot more comfortable … is for us to have licensing involved,” Nedal Shawkat, a member of the county’s planning board, said at a previous meeting. “… So that if there are bad actors, if we go into it presuming that they’re going to be good, presuming they’re innocent but they prove to be otherwise, then we take the appropriate action.”
Shawkat said he liked the idea of having a separate licensing or permitting process along with the conditional-use permit because it would be easier to revoke in the case of violations. The planning board recommended the request be denied with a 4-1 vote.
BOC Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills was present during the Feb. 25 meeting and spoke in favor of the county initiating a separate permitting process for short-term rentals. She and District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper, who represents the area where the applicant lives, presented the issue to the board of commissioners at the work session on Tuesday.
“I am strongly for our being able to permit … our [short-term rentals] because otherwise, how can we enforce anything?” Cooper said.
Other commissioners were in agreement that a standalone permit to go with the conditional-use permit for short-term rental applicants, but County Attorney Ken Jarrard called the proposition “curious.”
“You would get [a short-term rental, conditional-use permit] but then need a permit for the [short-term rental] – it would almost seem like we’re building in redundancies at this point,” Jarrard said.
“Why would we give you the [short-term rental, conditional-use permit] in the first place if we were going to deny the permit to do the very thing you just got the permission for?”
Jarrard said that it might be easier to designate which zonings are appropriate for short-term rentals and then build a “much more robust” permitting process around the allowable zonings.
Mills expressed interest in a standalone permit, like a business license, for those wanting to apply for short-term rentals. Jarrard said adding a permitting process would take some “retooling” of the CUP conditions, but it could be done.
“[The permitting process] sets in motion the right process for people to apply, it gives us the punitive measures that we need to take care of the bad actors, of which there might be few and far between,” said District 2 Commissioner Alfred John. “If we apply this permitting process now, it gives greater weight to enforcement on the other side as well, so I think we should follow through with this process.”
District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent approved of having the standalone permitting process because he said it could provide for easier enforcement of conditions.
Commissioners asked Jarrard to pull all regulations for short-term rentals and conditional-use permits that have previously been drafted to be presented during the next work session.
Nuckolls Road intersection:
Bruce Troville, a resident of Forsyth County, advocated for an ADA-approved crosswalk at Nuckolls Road and Habersham Trace during last week’s board of commissioners' regular meeting on Thursday, March 4. Commissioners Todd Levent and Laura Semanson asked for the issue to be added to the work session agenda.
During the work session, the county’s engineering director, John Cunard, spoke about what could be done. According to Troville, there are problems with speeding in the intersection.
Cunard cited traffic studies done at the intersection that concluded a crosswalk was not needed at the intersection.
“It doesn’t warrant a multi-way stop, and the sight distance is not desirable for a crosswalk [at Habersham],” Cunard said.
Cunard offered a solution in the form of a crosswalk with flashing lights at Nuckolls Road and Thornhill Court because that intersection had a better sight distance desirable for a crosswalk.
Levent asked Cunard for any recommendations to help slow vehicles down between Nuckolls Road and Habersham Trace, and Cunard said Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman had been notified of the issue and would work to increase enforcement in the area.
Levent asked that the traffic study and engineering reports be shared with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioners asked Cunard to release the reports to the neighboring HOA and the sheriff’s office.