Proposed changes in Lebanon zoning would allow for more short-term rentals near downtown

Lebanon is creating a central residential district in downtown that would allow more property owners to rent their properties as short-term rentals and the city will have new regulations on these properties.

Lebanon City Council is expected to approve the new map and regulations at its June 14 meeting.

Over the past few months, city officials have been working on the rezoning of properties adjacent to the downtown area to create a central residential district.

City Manager Scott Brunka said the properties in this area are a mix of institutional buildings, churches, community services, and residential properties.

Under current zoning, short-term rentals are only permitted in the central business district. Brunka said the proposed zoning would allow permitting on a conditional basis for many of the uses that property owners were seeking such as office and short term rentals while eliminating less desirable uses such as bars, etc.

The proposal could allow non-owner-occupied short-term rentals, with specific regulations, as well as other compatible uses as conditional uses.

City officials met with property owners on March 9 to discuss their properties with a mixed reaction to the proposed map amendment. Brunka said there were many excited about the proposal, while others were concerned about the proposed change.

Property owners also requested that New and North Mechanic streets as well as Warren and Cherry streets be included in the new Central Residential District. The area is residential and residents wanted this to continue. The Central Business District would continue north and would include commercial properties.

The new zoning code would give owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied properties permission to operate a short-term rental in Lebanon, subject to certain conditions.

In addition, Brunka said owner-occupied properties outside the district would also be permitted to operate a short-term rental in Lebanon under certain conditions. However, single-room and single-floor hosted rentals is permitted throughout the year.

Other regulations in the proposed zoning changes include:

  • Prohibiting the remodeling or structurally altering a building that would prevent the structure from being used as a residence in the future or that would make it appear “less residential.”
  • Prohibiting the construction of new homes to be primarily intended for rental to short-term guests. This also prohibits the short-term rental of single-family structures that were constructed less than five years prior to the date of application for an short term rental permit.
  • Requiring that no more than 25 percent of units in multi-family buildings can be used as short-term rentals.

While Lebanon is expected to give final approval on June 14, the state is also looking at how much a local community can regulate short term rentals and prohibit a community from banning them altogether. House Bill 563 is pending in The Ohio House of Representatives.

West Carrollton recently extended its moratorium on using buildings as short-term rentals (fewer than 30 days) for another six months. That includes, but is not limited to online platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo and HomeAway.

The extension, which was unanimously approved at West Carrollton City Council’s most recent meeting, is meant to allow council members to study and review the possible long-term impact on the city, as well as the implications of Ohio House Bill 563, according to Lori Denlinger, the city’s law director/prosecuting attorney.

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