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More lake homes could become rentals
Planning board recommends expanding vacation rental rules
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The Hall County Planning Board voted Monday to recommend allowing Lake Lanier homeowners outside the vacation cottage zoning district the right to apply to rent their homes to tourists. Applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution allowing owners of vacation cottages — which are typically those within 500 feet of the lake shoreline — to rent them for 30 days or less. The commission then asked the planning board to consider an amendment that would allow those in the R-1 zoning district, which is residential, the ability to request short-term rentals as well.

The planning board voted 4-1 to recommend allowing
homeowners to apply for
short-term rentals based on proximity to the lake. The board agreed that it would be best not to stipulate a single zoning district.

All applications would come before the planning board and commissioners for approval.

The commissioners will make the final decision on the matter.

The action was a request of officials with the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, who saw it as an opportunity to increase sales tax revenue by providing more options for people looking to stay overnight in Hall County.

"The intent is not for this to be used for traditional, established subdivisions," Hall County Planning Director Randy Knighton said.

Planning board members were skeptical of allowing all properties zoned R-1 to be used for short-term rentals.

"I think we open up a can of worms," Chairman Don Smallwood said. "Personally I don’t see how we can say it’s R-1 and you can do it but you can’t do it."

Planning board member Jones Cottrell said there are some lakeside neighborhoods where houses on one side of the street are zoned vacation cottage and homes on the other are zoned R-1.

"The guy that’s sitting in a lake community and just because his neighbor is on the lake and right across the lake he can see the lake through the trees, I don’t think he should not have the ability to put his house in a rental arrangement," Cottrell said. "That’s the person that gets impacted more than anyone else."

Knighton said the intent of the request was to allow homes close to the lake to apply for a short-term rental business license.

"I think if we go beyond proximity along Lake Lanier, we could be opening this up to a number of situations that would not be compatible with established, residential areas," Knighton said.