Tourism is often seen as supporting the “quality of life” that residents living on Lake Lanier enjoy.
But vacation rental homes have a way of bringing these two things into conflict, and sometimes pit property rights against the wishes of a larger community.
Matthew Corentin learned this lesson recently when the Hall County Board of Commissioners denied his request to rent his lake home off Whippoorwill Lane near Dawsonville Highway for 30 days or fewer.
“I’m asking to be regulated,” Corentin said. “I’m trying to do it the right way.”
Corentin’s home, a ranch-style tucked in a cove and located in a subdivision with R-1 residential zoning that contains 10 lots or fewer, meets the criteria for such approval and received the support of the county planning department.
But many of his neighbors, describing short-term rentals as a cancer, protested out of concern that nightly and weekly guests would draw loud parties and uncontrolled traffic to the subdivision of aging retirees.
And they warned of the potential domino effect of turning the subdivision into a hub of transient guests if just one home were allowed to rent so frequently.
Corentin had rented his home for weekly stays after purchasing it in 2013, unaware of the need for special permitting to rent for fewer days at a time.
And the ire of some neighbors only grew from there, culminating, it seems, when one of his renters used a neighbor’s lawn to back in his trailered boat.
Corentin had to replace the sod, but said one bad experience shouldn’t be enough to rule him out.
“We go above and beyond,” Corentin said of vetting renters, adding that he conducts background checks and other measures to ensure he’s not renting to fraternities, for graduation parties or weddings.
Commissioner Jeff Stowe said the Beverly Hills subdivision where Corentin’s home is located is a bit of misnomer.
Simply meeting the criteria is no guarantee of approval, Stowe said, and he had to weigh the impact on a narrow residential street.
“Realistically, when you look at their subdivision, it’s really (multiple) subdivisions that should be one,” Stowe said.
Stowe also said county ordinances give commissioners case-by-case discretion, and that some areas of the lake are better suited than others for vacation rentals.
“They’re not looking out for the neighbor’s best interest,” Stowe said of most short-term renters.
Corentin said he shares his neighbor’s interests in protecting the quality of life of the subdivision.
After all, Corentin added, he hopes to live there full-time one day. And a few of his neighbors have expressed support for him.
The reviews he’s received from guests attest to the “nice and quiet” atmosphere that everyone wants to protect, Corentin said, and he’s committed to renting for no less than a week at a time.
“This is the way the neighborhood was set up,” Corentin said.
Corentin said claims about his renters disturbing the peace have been exaggerated and that he didn’t get a fair hearing before the board of commissioners.
He is unsure what to do now.
Perhaps Corentin will test the waters again someday, or perhaps the time is nearing to sell the property, he said.
“Perception is a lot different than reality,” Corentin added.