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Board of Adjustment grants garage apartment short-term rental status

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Board of Adjustment last week added some unusual conditions for a homeowner who wanted to use a garage apartment as a short-term rental, though in the end they granted the special exception.


The board voted 7-0 to approve a special exception that will allow a garage apartment at 900 Garner Street to remain in the setbacks of their property. Special exceptions allow structures to remain if they have been in violation for at least 15 years, for applications submitted before June 6, 2013. After that date, the violation will have to have been in place for at least 25 years.


Andrew Wheat was seeking the special exception for the garage apartment. Wheat has lived at 900 Garner Street since 1999, and produced a survey from 1993 that showed the structure in question. Though they approved the grandfathering, the use of the structure as a short-term rental and complaints from neighbors gave the board pause.


“Part of what’s troubling me is that this is a rental unit that’s so close and it may or may not be used as short-term rental,” said Board Member Bryan King. “As long as you’re living there, my comfort zone is much greater.”


King asked for a condition that the building remain a Type I STR, which requires the owner of the property remain on site.


When asked whether this would be appropriate, Assistant City Attorney Brent Lloyd said “If the board is satisfied that a Type II commercial STR has impacts given the facts of this case, that would be unacceptable in light of the special exception, then you can certainly impose that condition.”


Judy Davis lives in the property next door to 900 Garner, and explained that the property which is used for short-term rentals is quite close to her home. She said normal noise made at the rental unit is quite loud, as is the air conditioner on the property. She explained that the proximity, and location of the entrance, creates a loss of privacy at her home.


“There have been occasions when I’ve been in my living room and glanced out to the patio and garden, only to lock eyes with a renter in the building a short distance away,” said Davis. “I felt like a peeping Tom on my own property.”


Wheat said that they had lived next door to the Davis family for a long time, and would be happy to address a number of their concerns, including removing a shed that sits very close to the property line, as well as increasing their parking.


“This is one of the more painful parts of this incident,” said Wheat, when talking about the objections of his neighbors.


In addition to the stipulation that any short-term rental remain a Type I STR, the Board of Adjustment granted the special exception on the conditions that the shed is removed, parking increased, a light is shielded or relocated, the entry is relocated for more privacy, a step is fixed, the air conditioner is upgraded or fixed and a permit for the apartment is obtained from the city.


The board also added a condition that no other variances be sought for the property.

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