The Hall County Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday to allow more Lake Lanier residents to rent their homes to tourists.
At its board meeting, the commissioners addressed the pros and cons of letting homeowners open their homes to vacationers, including questions about neighbor complaints, noise, tax benefits and homestead exemptions.
With Commissioner Bobby Banks declining, the board voted 3-1 to move the resolution forward and address questions as it reviews and approves each application. Commissioner Ashley Bell was not at the meeting.
Under the proposal, homeowners interested in renting would be required to obtain a business license.
“Didn’t we just find that 580 people have a business license and don’t pay taxes?” said Banks, the District 1 commissioner.
“If we approve this, will code enforcement monitor and check licenses? Will it be case by case? How do we monitor if homes are rented or not?”
On April 8, the commission approved the ability for residential homes in the Vacation-Cottage zoning district to rent their homes for fewer than 30 days.
The new proposal would allow residences in the R-1 zoning district to have the same privileges.
Douglas Aiken, former Hall County Taxpayers Association president, asked the board to table the motion, producing a list of reasons for and against the proposal.
“I’m trying to look after the people who live on the lake because none of the commissioners do,” Aiken said after the meeting.
“The negative impact far outweighs the positive. This renting already happens, and legalizing it won’t make it better because people who abuse it and get caught will just do it again.”
Tabling the motion would give residents and the Lake Lanier Association more time to respond, he said.
“What about the people who don’t know?” he said. “Wait and see what happens with the oil spill in the Gulf. We may have a lot of people coming up here. I don’t think you have the feel of what could happen, and I expect that when you do, you’ll regret passing this.”
On May 3, the planning commission held a public hearing and recommended approval for single family residential homes in close proximity to the lake to be allowed the opportunity. The commission held a second reading of the proposal Tuesday.
“This would be an avenue where people can advertise their property on the lake when they couldn’t before,” Chairman Tom Oliver said.
“Some people were doing it already but didn’t have the blessing from the commission to advertise. It’s more word of mouth.”
In other business, the commission denied yet another request by Chang Jung to change the zone near his Auto Gallery business on Florence Drive for a parking lot. Several residents of Richmond Townhomes and Bentley Park Circle presented petitions with signatures and spoke out against loud speakers, bright lights and many cars situated in the residential area.
“Many senior citizens live there and their lives would be harmed by the disruption of the neighbors and may be compelled to move,” said Douglas Young, Gainesville State College political science professor who spoke for Richmond Townhomes.
“But these retirees on a fixed income can’t do that in this economy. Plus, would you want one of these auto shops plopped in your neighborhood?”