City Council opens door to short-term rentals

Published 8:01 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Several considerations were made for the planning commission in Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting. The most notable consideration approved was adding short-term rental to the City of Bainbridge zoning ordinance.

The City defines short-term rental as the renting or leasing of one to six rooms of a dwelling unit for less than 30 days. The owner/operator may or may not live on the premises. Short-term rental is considered a lodging service and subject to occupational tax certificate and hotel/motel tax regulations.

The idea to change the language in the zoning ordinance came after Carol Floyd, representative of the Bainbridge Tennis Association, reached out to Bainbridge residents and asked them to open their homes to tennis competitors through the website

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Floyd was not the only one who thinks this idea would flourish in Bainbridge. Natalie Kirbo spoke in support of the consideration at the City Council meeting.

“I think this is a way people are seeking out to stay that has a little more character, when they don’t want to stay right next to the highway,” Kirbo said.

Kirbo believes the approval of this new zoning ordinance would keep Bainbridge in line with other cities it would like to emulate. She stated Thomasville has a very short and sweet ordinance like Bainbridge’s and they have found success from it. Not only will the ordinance help bring visitors into the historic area of Bainbridge, but Kirbo thinks it has the possibility to encourage other residents to invest in property downtown that they can rent out.

“I would like to see some more investment and development downtown. That is my personal hope,” she said.

Kirbo also points out this change in the language will help keep things professional and prevent people from doing under the table deals when visitors ask if they can stay. There will be a set of guidelines and rules people have to abide by.

Tyler Thomas and his wife, Heather also spoke in support of the new zoning ordinance. Thomas’ only request was a small change in the language that would allow homeowners to rent more than six bedrooms, but less than 10. Thomas said that older homes in the community sometimes have a larger amount of space that would open up to more than six rooms.

However, Roy Oliver, Community Development Director, said that the language observed in other communities has been explicit in its rule of only leasing one to six bedrooms.

The City agreed to adopt the regulation as presented, but councilman Don Whaley had a question about how to regulate the hotel/motel tax. Oliver told Whaley that it is subject to the rules that apply when given the temporary lease, but it can be hard to police.

Councilman Phil Long was also in great support of the new ordinance.

“It’ll give the city more opportunity for places to stay,” he said. “I think it’s positive. There are some old homes that people may be interested in renting.”