Waynesville closer to regulating Airbnb homes in village

Resident Robert Cross expresses his concerns from the podium to Waynesville Village Council Monday about a new ordinance that would regulate short term rentals under 30 days through companies such as Air BnB. After a lengthy discussion, council agreed to make some tweaks in the proposed ordinance. Council intends to vote on the ordinance at its June 21 meeting. ED RICHTER/STAFF
Resident Robert Cross expresses his concerns from the podium to Waynesville Village Council Monday about a new ordinance that would regulate short term rentals under 30 days through companies such as Air BnB. After a lengthy discussion, council agreed to make some tweaks in the proposed ordinance. Council intends to vote on the ordinance at its June 21 meeting. ED RICHTER/STAFF

A Waynesville resident who wants to open up an Airbnb business in his 185-year-old house is questioning the amount of regulation and other issues in a proposed village ordinance concerning short-term rentals.

Robert Cross of North Main Street told council Monday he was being discriminated against because of some of the language in the proposed ordinance that was given a first reading at the meeting.

In early April, some residents raised concerns about having Airbnb locations in the village, citing various incidents and violence that had occurred in other cities and how it could affect their property values. In late April, council approved a six-month moratorium on short-term rentals in the village until a special council committee took a longer look at these types of rentals. The committee met in early May to gather more information and to receive public input.

ExploreWaynesville places six-month moratorium on short-term rentals less than 30 days

While Waynesville has ordinances that regulate local hotels and bed & breakfast inns, the village has nothing in its code regulating the short-term rentals of less than 30 days, such as Airbnb or VRMO rentals.

The special committee met a few times and obtained ordinances from other communities to craft the proposed ordinance.

Cross questioned the need for an emergency designation on the proposed ordinance saying that in his opinion, “felt it was a bit much.” He also questioned the permit fees and possible penalties if there are violations. He also said Airbnb is a well-established organization.

In addition to permit fees, penalties for violations and other requirements, the proposed ordinance mandates that these types of businesses outside of the downtown business district, must be owner-occupied.

Council cited the reason for the emergency designation was for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and general welfare of the village. It also said it was immediately necessary to adopt regulations in a reasonable and practical manner as this is “a currently unregulated commercial activity that is quickly proliferating throughout the village, and which, if allowed to continue unregulated, threatens the health, safety, welfare, comfort, and peace of the village.”

“We’re talking about a BnB,” Cross said. “It’s not the plague.”

Village Manager/Police Chief Gary Copeland said the ordinance and rules are designed to protect Cross from possible unscrupulous operators.

“This ordinance will protect a person who wants a thriving business,” Copeland said. “I don’t foresee any problems.”

Law Director Jeff Forbes said the village bends over backwards to work with business owners. He said if the ordinance is passed as an emergency, it will void the current moratorium.

Councilwoman Joette Dedden said the plan was to give the proposed ordinance a first reading, and at the June 21 meeting, adopt it as an emergency ordinance after its second reading so that it can take effect immediately