As the town becomes more and more a vacation destination, the issue of regulating homestay accommodations is once again being discussed by Town Council. Town Manager Larry DiRe has been researching the homestay, and has provided the following.
Conditional use permit required – Staff does not recommend homestay accommodations be by conditional use permits except for bed and breakfast\tourist house as currently stated in the zoning ordinance. Given the significant number of homestay accommodations in Cape Charles, and the lengthy process involved to acquire such a permit, staff finds no compelling government interest advanced by such a permit process.
Registry – Staff recommends the town establish a formal registry to be maintained in the treasurer’s office. The registry will include all contact and ownership information, as well as information on the rental agent\property manager who shall be responsible for the property and compliance by the occupants to all town laws and regulations (these include noise, property maintenance, golf cart operations for golf carts registered to that property, trash cans, domestic animals, general property maintenance). No homestay accommodation shall be licensed without properly registering first.
Occupancy limits – Staff recommends an occupancy limit irrespective of what the building, fire and life safety codes may approve. In no instance shall any homestay accommodation house more than ten (10) overnight occupants. No differentiation between adult or child. This does not apply to hotels, or bed and breakfast accommodations approved under a conditional use permit prior to July 1, 2019.
Limitation on number of homestay accommodations – Staff recommends that any one property owner shall only register one property as a homestay accommodation. While not restricting the right of any property owner to pursue such a use, the property owner is limited to only one such use per year.
Loss of privilege – Staff recommends language clearly stating the property shall be removed from the registry and cease homestay accommodations activity for more the remainder of the year if the property is found to be
in violation of more than three town ordinances.
Golf cart use regulations posted inside building – Staff recommends every registered homestay accommodation post the golf cart use regulations in a public place proximate to the publicly posted business license.
Recently there has been much discussion regarding the “character” of Cape Charles’ historic district. Two years ago, the National Park Service did an analysis of the City of Savannah’s landmark district. While finding the district relatively strong, several issues were cited as threats including noise, the proliferation of hotels, and the increase in short-term vacation rentals within the landmark district.
Staff has been directed to begin forming a draft ordinance for future homestay regulations.