By Amy Reinholds
The Lyons Planning & Community Development Commission (PCDC) is recommending allowing some use of short-term vacation rentals in commercial zones, a lighter use than a hotel or motel, and considering some changes for short-term vacation rentals in the Agricultural zones in the Town of Lyons. But according to a January 28 meeting, they are in favor of the current short-term vacation rental policy staying the same in other residential zones.
Four members of the PCDC met with Lyons Town Planner Paul Glasgow January 28 at a workshop to address five issues that the Lyons Board of Trustees identified last week. You can read about that meeting in my column last week at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/an-update-on-short-term-rentals-and-their-effects-on-long-term-rentals.
Based on the discussions of the four commissioners in attendance, Clay Dusel, Roger Flynn, Joshua Schnabel, and Doug Miller, it seems like the PCDC is leaning toward allowing an alternative classification for commercial short-term rentals on these small, two- or three-room properties in downtown Lyons, such as 314, 324, and 318 Main Street, which have been licensed in the past with business licenses but don’t work with the Short-Term Rental code that was created for residential zones. These commercial vacation rentals are similar in nature to hotels because there is no principal homeowner who lives on site (in contrast to the residential short-term vacation rentals), but they are not hotels or motels because the small rooms or suites of rooms are only rented to one party. The PCDC commissioners favored requirements such as the majority of the space still be used as commercial, and the front of the building facing Main Street should be used for commercial. Glasgow said he would prepare some possible guidelines for differences between Commercial, Commercial Eastern Corridor, and Commercial Downtown zones.
The only change for short-term vacation rentals in residential zones that the four commissioners clearly supported was for Agricultural zones in the Town of Lyons. They are looking at recommending a way for homeowner in Agricultural zone to have one separate building (an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU) that is used for short-term vacation rentals if the homeowner pays all required utility connection fees, and water shares. (Town of Lyons water and sewer are not extended to properties on Indian Lookout Road, the main neighborhood with Agricultural zoning in the Town of Lyons, so those fees would not be required in that neighborhood. Instead property owners must have wells and septic systems.) If the property owners in an Agricultural zone want to pursue more than one short-term vacation rental in the Agricultural zone, they would be able to go through either a conditional use review process for a campground on their Agriculturally zoned land, or a rezoning process to a Planned Unit Development, Glasgow discussed with the commissioners.
This approach follows what Trustee Mark Browning stated last week: if the town waives water and sewer connection fees for a detached ADU, then it shouldn’t be allowed as a short-term vacation rental.
A new Short-term Rental Ordinance put in place last year makes it much easier for residential homeowners, who don’t want to go through a Bed & Breakfast conditional review, to rent out rooms to vacationers in the homes where they live. Now all a residential homeowner must do is complete a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental Application at www.townoflyons.com/ShortTermRentals, with a new application fee, and pay an annual license fee for a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental License. The costs are a $100 license fee plus a $75 new application fee for the first calendar year ($175 total), and a $100 license fee plus a $50 renewal application fee for following years ($150 total each year). Waivers of the $100 license fee are granted for short-term rentals of rooms that meet accessibility requirements.
The Lyons Short-term Rental Ordinance prohibits short-term rentals in campers or RVs, in other non-compliant structures like sheds, in accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that are covered by the www.townoflyons.com/566/Accessory-Dwelling-Units ordinance, and in homes that the property owners do not use as their principal residence. I care about the connection between short-term vacation rentals and housing that local workers can afford. If there were no restrictions on the use of ADUs after all the incentives that save homeowners money, property owners who wanted to maximize profit would run a business that brings in $200 a night from vacationers, instead of building community by renting to longer-term tenants who live and work in Lyons.
The PCDC commissioners at Monday’s meeting supported keeping the Short-term Rental Ordinance the same for detached accessory buildings without kitchens (not full ADUs) in the other residential zones. The Short-term Rental Ordinance does not allow short-term vacation rentals in this kind of structure, and the Board of Trustees wants the Accessory Dwelling Unit town code to instead encourage long-term rentals in detached buildings.
And the PCDC commissioners also supported retaining the current Short-term Rental restrictions for attached dwelling units. A full kitchen makes the attached apartment and ADU, which can only be rented to long-term tenants. However, if a stove is removed so that it is not a full kitchen, the homeowner would be allowed to get a Short-term Rental License.
One minor exception for the existing Short-term Rental Ordinance made the list of what PCDC commissioners supported changing. Although the ordinance only allows homeowners to get a Short-term Renal License, they discussed a situation for immediate family members who are living in a home owned by parents, and are acting as the primary resident. They suggested a waiver for the owner-occupied requirement for immediate family only, if the owner submits a document that identifies the family member as the primary resident. The PCDC commissioners asked Glasgow to have the town attorney review this idea.
There wasn’t time for the four PCDC commissioners and Glasgow to discuss Trustee Jocelyn Farrell’s request to look at bumping up the 30-day minimum time period for renting ADUs to 90 days or longer – a proposed change to the ADU Ordinance. She said 90 days minimum rental would encourage more of a community vibe in our residential neighborhoods instead of a hotel lodging environment. Glasgow said he plans to report back at the next PCDC meeting Feb. 11 about several of the issues he is researching, to finalize the PCDC’s recommendations for the Board of Trustees.
This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.