DEADWOOD — Although development in the county is booming and vacation rentals are a red-hot commodity for many property owners, the Lawrence County Commission will not be regulating them in the near future.
“So you’re comfortable with me not dealing with vacation rentals, is what I’m hearing, right now?” Vogt asked.
“That’s a can of worms,” said Lawrence County Commissioner Eric Jennings.
So ended an ordinance discussion related to guest houses and temporary second residences at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Lawrence County Commission, where Vogt requested guidance from the Board on what ordinances they would like the planning and zoning commission to review.
Discussion was held on reviewing the current temporary second residence requirements of a conditional use permit; the commission suggested reviewing the filing deed restrictions and/or affidavits instead of applying for a conditional use permit; the commission said the current guest house process is sufficient and that at this time does not want to address vacation home rentals.
“What I’m hearing is … we’re OK with the guest house stuff going as it is, keep it deed restriction in place, instead of doing conditional use permit on these temporary second residences, possibly look at changing the ordinance to be more of an affidavit/deed restriction sort of thing,” Vogt said. “And then, for vacation rentals, are you comfortable with me not going down that or do you want us to look at it? If we do that, I would say it would be a stand-alone ordinance, but it’s going to be a big undertaking and it’s going to be a nightmare.”
Vogt said, for example, there would need to be a staff member that would go and check septic systems.
“We don’t have that,” she said. “So that’s a piece that we’d have to deal with.”
She said counties, like Pennington County, require an annual registration fee for vacation rentals, as well.
The homes are inspected, she said, to make sure everything is up to code.
Vail, Colo., has a separate department dedicated to managing vacation rentals, she said.
“They literally have two employees. That’s what they do every day,” Vogt said. “A lot of those counties have, like, a noise ordinance that go into the sheriff’s office. It’s all encompassing. It’s not just my department. Because it can get really sticky.”
Vogt said the reason the items were being discussed is that ordinance revisions have been a topic of discussion at planning and zoning board meetings.
“This is kind of coming back to two areas. One, guest houses in general and two, the discussion on all of the vacation rentals, because … there’s a definition of each, but I think sometimes people get the two confused,” Vogt said. “And then you have the other piece, which is, where we allow temporary second residences specifically by conditional use permit and those are where they come before you guys and you make that decision of whether or not you want to allow it. Hired hand or medical. And it has to be one of those things and you guys make that determination. Now that’s always been an issue because it works fine most of the time, but once there’s a mobile home, it’s very difficult for the county commission to make that go away. We have had some situations that we’ve had to deal with that and we’ve worked through it. But that’s kind of – it’s never ending. I’d rather see it not happen that way, but it is what it is and we deal with it as we have to.”
Vogt then discussed the guesthouse piece.
“Guesthouses are permitted on anything over three acres or more. So if you’re less than three acres, you can’t even request a guesthouse. We don’t allow it. But if you’re three acres or more and you can meet the certain specifications of the guest house, we allow a secondary structure on any lot,” Vogt said.
“But people are getting creative, we’ll say. So it’s becoming an issue,” she added. “So I, basically, kind of put my foot down that I don’t care if it’s a pole building, if it’s a cabin. I don’t care what you call it. If you have a separate structure, whatever it might be, we consider it a guesthouse. And so then they have to meet the guesthouse ordinance, which is, like, 1,000 square feet is the biggest it can be. And that’s where we are right now.”
Vogt said she put the items on the agenda for commission discussion.
“Basically, as I ask every year and I get told by the county commission is we’re not going to regulate vacation rentals,” Vogt said. “If we are going to do that, and that is a change that this commission would like to see, that is something that is not going to get fixed overnight. It is very lengthy and it is very difficult to maintain. A lot of entities are trying to. Is it doable? Yes. Is it something that I think this commission is prepared for? I don’t know. It’s your guys’ call. It’s separate. Because guesthouses have alleviated, you know, a lot of people want to have a space for – their grandkids come home in the summertime. They want, kind of, that separate space. They want their mother-in-law to come and have a place or whatever. So it’s kind of changed. At first, the guesthouse, I know it’s cumbersome and you might not like it, but it seems to be working. It’s just; we have a lot of them. So I just need to make sure we’re still on the same page, that it’s OK to continue issuing those, because that’s kind of where we at. And then vacation rentals is kind of a different.”
Vogt said planning and zoning would like to make sure that wherever they’re spending time on trying to make edits, is consistent with what county commissioners still wants to see.
“Because they don’t want to go down the rabbit hole one way or another,” Vogt said. “If you’re OK with the way it is, we’re not going to touch it. If you want us to work on it, we will.”
Commissioner Brandon Flanagan said that, yes, the planning and zoning commission did discuss the matter and wanted to know from the commission if it is going the right way.
“I suspect that part of the creative issues that Amber has seen is what we’d seen years ago where people are doing this living area above a structure, before we had the actual guest houses, and whether they try to rent those out as a VRBO or short-term things or they move into that and rent their own house out, I think it’s important to keep in the ordinance, at least under the current paradigm, that the addition, the mother-in-law house, or whatever you want to call that additional living space, is not intended to allow for a rental,” Flanagan said. “Unless the majority of the board decided it’s just fine, which is a different discussion. But I think the clarification in all of these is that the other residence, whether it be the CUP second residence, or the guesthouse, that those are not intended to be income-producing properties for the person that’s building it. It’s intended to be a convenience for family or friends. And, of course, you can’t regulate every one of those. You basically have to regulate by complaining at this time. I don’t know that there is a problem. I don’t know that there is not a problem … it’s like our variance requests. It’s important to look at every year, just to at least, question it … my concern, more, is how the office is handling it and what their concerns are, if any.”
Lawrence County Deputy State’s Attorney Bruce Outka said there was a desire from planning and zoning to know how the commissioners felt about the topics.
Vogt said during the ordinance editing process, the planning and zoning commission is unlikely to change the guesthouse or temporary second residence.
“But we wanted to make sure that you didn’t want us to delve into vacation rentals. Because that is a very different and distinct item,” Vogt said. “Even planning and zoning talked about, ‘Should we do something different with vacation rentals or should we not?’ But I feel like that’s a totally different venue that’s probably a separate and distinct discussion and if you want me to spend time on that, I need to know that. But if the feel of the commission has not changed, I’m not going to waste my time on that, because we have a lot going on that I don’t necessarily need to take on more and I think that’s how planning and zoning was, too, is that they didn’t want to spend the time on it to create this entire ordinance. But is it worth it? Because I don’t feel like we’re at a point yet that the commission or planning and zoning is ready to start regulating it yet.”
Deed restrictions follow the sale of properties containing guesthouses.
“We make sure before the certificate of occupancy is issued for that structure. They have to have a deed restriction in place. So for the future, anybody that buys that lot, they know that they cannot rent that out as a secondary residence,” Vogt said. “It is a guest house only for whoever is in that primary structure.”
Outka said the vacation rental enforcement is the bigger issue.
“You probably really want to know what you’re getting into with that, in terms of the regulation and who’s going to do what,” Outka said.
Commissioner Richard Sleep said the temporary second residence have always been problematic, as well.
To read all of today's stories,
or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.