A Letter to White County Commisioners on Short-term Rentals

White County Chairman and Commissioners:

I attended last evening’s meeting hoping to find some answers to my questions about your proposed changes to our Municipal Code.

I learned that there are many upset residents, some upset investors, and more questions than answers at this point.

One of the things that bothers me is not understanding why you are granting certain owners of residential properties the right to turn them into rental businesses.

No one purchases property that is not encumbered in some way.  We all do.  The zoning process has been used to grant some property owners a new right that they did not have legally until the White County Commission votes to give it to them.  That is a new right to run a for-profit short-term rental business on property that is for residential purposes.  

Some owners may state that they have the right to do what they want with their property, but it simply isn’t true.  It hasn’t been true for many decades.

Section 16-200 of the proposed changes states a purpose.  In that paragraph, it includes  “…while minimizing the negative, secondary effects on surrounding properties.”  

Are you going to vote for changes that you acknowledge will have negative, secondary effects on your residents?  If so, you are taking away something we purchased with our property and giving it to another entity.  We lose the residential neighbors and they gain the right to run a commercial business on a residential property.

If you truly believe that we have too many Short-term Rentals, then raise the fees on them so that they are prohibitively expensive.  Offer no variances whatsoever on the properties that they are attempting to be put into the program. Low fees and variances enabled too many rentals that should have never been approved.

On the White County website, you have an organizational chart.  The citizens of White County are at the top of that chart.  The majority of residents were quite clear that they want White County to have fewer short-term rentals.  Here we are trying to remove the citizens from the approval process and to make it easier for property owners (who may or may not be residents) to be granted rights on a property that did not exist until White County approved it.  I hope you think about that carefully.

Do the right thing for your citizens and stop granting rights where they do not exist today. If they existed, we would not have to seek permission to do it.

Preserve the quality of life for the residents who chose to live here rather than destroying it so investors can attempt to turn a profit.

Where we live, we can see and hear the changes and development behind us towards Chimney Mountain.  Lots have been cleared, then smoke rises, and in 12 months we see the Zillow listings for homes that have been constructed that are ideal for “short-term rental investments”.  Residing in the neighborhood of Skylake does not protect us from the impact of short-term rentals.   

Neither will these proposed changes.