Ardsley Park property owner faces $5,000 in fines for illegal sh - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Ardsley Park property owner faces $5,000 in fines for illegal short-term vacation rentals

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
One of the properties Dewitt was cited for at 212 E 57th St. (Source: WTOC) One of the properties Dewitt was cited for at 212 E 57th St. (Source: WTOC)
One of the properties Dewitt was cited for at 211 E 57th St. (Source: WTOC) One of the properties Dewitt was cited for at 211 E 57th St. (Source: WTOC)
(Source: City of Savannah) (Source: City of Savannah)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A Savannah property owner is facing thousands of dollars in fines. This after city officials say Mark Dewitt illegally operated as many as ten short term vacation rentals throughout the city.

Some Ardsley Park residents are glad city leaders took action. Others aren't in favor of the regulations.

Ardsley Park residents said they don't want to  keep everyone out of their neighborhood. They just want the people who come here to be long-term residents—not weekend visitors.

A sign makes it pretty clear how Hal Jenkins feels about short term vacation rentals. You see the signs that say “No Vacancy, short term rentals are illegal” sporadically through different neighborhoods in town. Jenkins lives on a block where city zoning officials said two of these properties are.

"Not knowing who's your neighbors, next door, two doors down. I kind of like to know who the people are around me,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins said he understands Savannah is a tourist town. He just doesn't want those tourists spread everywhere.

"We can't have this all over the city. They've got to keep that sort of stuff, if they want it downtown, fine,” said Jenkins.

When it comes to short-term vacation rentals, the city seems to agree. They ban the properties anywhere south of Victory Drive. Anything north must be approved.

Five of the ten properties Mark Dewitt was cited for are south of victory.

"We believe that the only barrier to entry into Ardsley Park is that you be a long term resident and willing to invest in your community,” said Nick Palumbo, the Ardsley Park neighborhood president. "We're very excited that the city is moving forward with enforcement of these 10 properties. It's something we've been looking forward to for a long time, but it's a slow process."

Palumbo and many others have been complaining about Dewitt's properties on Facebook for months. Dewitt, himself, posted a defense of his business in a reply that said, "just because someone has an entrepreneurial drive, creatively thinks outside the box, and works hard each and every day of their life doesn't mean what they are doing is illegal."

The city clearly thinks so and said this is proof they're enforcing the ordinances on the books.

"It's going to take some time, and there are going to be others as well that pop up in the neighborhood, but we look forward to addressing those as they come up,” said Palumbo.

Even with new ordinances and these citations, the issue over short term vacation rentals is only heating up.

Here's a big reason that issue is heating up—those against the regulation of the industry said it infringes the owner's property rights. As for Dewitt, he faces $500 fines for each property operating illegally. He did not respond to our message for comment.

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