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Proposed city ordinance could require special use permit for Airbnb properties

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) โ€” This week, the Harrisonburg City Planning Commission is having a public hearing on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. about new ordinance changes related to short-term rental properties โ€“ like a bed and breakfast or Airbnb.

Proposed city ordinance could require special use permit for Airbnb properties
Anyone with a short term property would need a special use permit, and a business license.

Apps like Airbnb, which allows homeowners to rent out a room on a temporary basis, have gained traction over the past few years.

The ordinance would require folks who are running short-term rentals to apply for a special use permit through the city.

To apply for the permit, they must have a public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting and City Council meeting, advertise to adjoining property owners that this is going on, have their request published in the newspaper, and have a sign put up on the site telling people what is being requested. There would also be a fee of $375 plus $30 per acre of land to cover the advertising.

After those steps, if the special use permit gets approved, then they must get a business license.

Adam Fletcher, who is the director of Planning and Development for Harrisonburg, said the decision for the amendments came about because they want to make sure affordable housing is still available for people living in the city, and that the short term rental prices are not driving up the cost of homes in an area.

“Our concern is that by allowing Airbnb’s by right, where anybody can do it anywhere they want, could severely impact affordable housing in the city,” said Fletcher.

After the hearing, a decision will be tabled until next month, and once a decision is made with the Planning Commission, it will go to City Council for a final decision.

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