Lakeville proposes B & B restrictions

Neighbors’ complaints raised issue

Steve Snider’s Lakeville bed-and-breakfast is getting rave reviews on airbnb.com, but a planned city ordinance would shut his business down.

Bed-and-breakfasts like Snider’s have drawn complaints from neighbors regarding traffic and a flow of strangers temporarily moving in and out, said Lakeville City Planner Daryl Morey at a Feb. 24 City Council workshop.

“The main concern is … a situation where you have people that are clearly renting rooms in their home for one or two or three days, and there’s a high level of turnover,” Morey said. “It’s a commercial business that’s being introduced into a residential area, and that’s a compatibility concern.”

At the workshop, council members reviewed a proposed ordinance intended to keep hotel-type property uses like a bed-and-breakfast out of residential neighborhoods.

Bed-and-breakfast businesses are allowed by permit in agricultural districts, not in single-family neighborhoods, Morey said.

Snider said in an interview he talked to Mayor Matt Little about the issue “a while back” and was confident the restrictions were “not going to happen.”

He said he is active in the business community and indicated surprise the council was considering an ordinance that would essentially ban his bed-and-breakfast, which according to the airbnb.com website he and his wife have been operating since at least September 2011 when the first of 20 glowing reviews of their business were posted.

The Lakeville ordinance as proposed would allow boarding houses to operate under an administrative permit, with a maximum of two boarders at a time for at least 30 days stay, allowing homeowners to rent rooms as a second income.

Renting rooms for less than 30 days would not be allowed under the ordinance, the caveat that would end Snider’s bed-and-breakfast business.

Council members cited concerns about the language that could have interfered with families who want to house-swap for vacation purposes, rent it for temporary housing, do foster care or participate in a foreign exchange program.

They asked staff to specify ordinance language so that it disallow hotel-style operations in neighborhoods.

City Council Member Bart Davis said he understands people should be able to do what they want with their property, but a “quasi-hotel” could cause problems.

“I wouldn’t want to be living next to someone running a boarding house,” Davis said. “But on the other hand I think we have to be really careful that we’re not restricting something that is a realistic activity for a resident to do.”

Little said staff will refine the language and  bring it back for Planning Commission review before it goes before the City Council again.

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