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City of Tybee Island considers changing the short-term vacation rental ordinance

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 5:16 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The short-term vacation rental saga continues out on Tybee Island. The city’s planning commission is considering change to the STVR ordinance. People say this could have a big impact on the future of them.

The biggest change in the proposal is for three residential zones on the island. That would mean STVRs are not allowed in these three zones. That concerns some people here and that’s why the planning commission is holding public meetings starting tonight.

City councilman Monty Parks wrote the ordinance the planning commission is reviewing.

“We’ve had people coming in for three days and then somebody else three days and somebody else three days, so you have a number of people who feel like they’re surrounded by people they don’t know,” said Elaine Mcgruder with the Tybee Island planning commission.

There are three residential zones: R-1, R-1-B and R-2. The ordinance says STVRs wouldn’t be allowed in those zones. If a home in the zone is already permitted as an STVR, it would fall under a category called “noncomforming use.”

“Once its nonconforming, if it gets sold, then I don’t think it’s going to be permitted to automatically operate,” said Mcgruder.

Jenny Rutherford with Jenny Rutherford Real Estate said, “that’s pretty scary for somebody who’s purchasing a home and planning to rent it out, use it some, rent it some and if they don’t have that ability they might not purchase here.”

Rutherford also said this confuses a buyer and that if this ordinance passes it could eventually put an end to vacation rentals.

“It’s kind of becoming a thing of people saying they want to choose who their neighbors are. They want to have residents next door but only certain types of people can buy that and that’s a problem.”

Another part of the ordinance reads that if an STVR in one of the three zones fails to generate a certain amount of money for a three-month period, it’ll be considered abandoned and the permit would be taken away.

“It kind of seems like rental control. That’s discouraging homeowners from using their property for three months or longer during the year and that’s really what they’re encouraging is having people here more fulltime,” said Rutherford.

Homeowner, Don Clawson says most of his neighbors are STVRs and he loves that about where he lives. He says he doesn’t want the city making any changes that could affect his property in the future.

“If I go to sell it the market for who I’m selling it to, if that’s limited to people that can’t use it as a rental costs me a bunch of money.”

McGruder with the planning commission says this ordinance excludes several areas of the island.

“There’s plenty of spaces in the commercial areas and in the R-T sections to have STVRs.”

Below is a look at the ordinance:

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