Lexington Board of Adjustment approves three controversial short-term rentals, denies one
This report is based on notes taken by Max Puchalsky for the Lexington Times Observer Program
Lexington, KY — The Lexington Board of Adjustment convened on Monday for a meeting that lasted from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. The meeting, held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, was marked by impassioned public statements and sustained debate among board members. The primary focus was on four conditional use appeal cases related to Short Term Rentals (STRs).
Board members Raquel Carter, Harry Clarke, Chad Walker, Bob Sturdivant, Carolyn Plumlee, Phillip Branden Gross, and Linda Tucker were in attendance. Planning staff members Traci Wade, Autumn Goderwis, Meghan Jennings, and Donna Lewis were also present. Approximately 25 members of the public attended the meeting, with the majority opposing the conditional use appeals for STRs. Public concerns ranged from the lack of affordable housing and the commercialization of neighborhoods to parking and safety issues.
Policies & Outcomes
Meghan Jennings, a LFUCG Senior Planner, provided background information on STRs in Lexington. She noted that STRs legally operating before July 11, 2023, can be grandfathered in and may not require a conditional use permit. They only need to get a Zoning Compliance Permit (ZCP) from the Division of Planning. According to AirDNA, there are 1,200 STRs currently operating in Lexington.
- Aaron Reedy: Requested a conditional use permit for an un-hosted STR in a Single Family Residential (R-1C) zone. The board approved the application with a 4-3 vote, adding a condition that the permit becomes null and void upon change in ownership.
- Deborah Burton: Requested a conditional use permit for an un-hosted STR in a Single Family Residential (R-1C) zone. The board approved the application with a 5-2 vote.
- Dalton Stanley: Requested a conditional use permit for an un-hosted STR in a Single Family Residential (R-1D) zone. The board disapproved the application with a 4-3 vote, citing insufficient parking and potential negative influence on the neighborhood.
- Kate White: Requested a conditional use permit for an un-hosted STR in a Single Family Residential (R-1C) zone. The board approved the application with a 6-1 vote, adding a condition that the permit becomes null and void if the applicant no longer occupies the adjacent property.
There is still one glaring fact, that this is the commercialization of a neighborhood.Board Member Carolyn Plumlee
Public comments were overwhelmingly in opposition to the STRs. Concerns were raised about the affordable housing crisis, commercialization of neighborhoods, and safety issues. Board members were divided on the issue, with some emphasizing their role in implementing existing policies, while others expressed concerns about the commercialization of residential areas.
Lynne Flynn, speaking on behalf of the Picadome Neighborhood Association, cited Imagine Lexington and the Comprehensive Plan’s section on the characteristics of successful neighborhoods arguing, “by their very nature, STRs cannot contribute to these characteristics.”
Tee Bergman, President of Mitchell Avenue Neighborhood Organization, questioned, “Is there a need for another STR in this area in our city? What impacts is this going to have on our immediate neighborhood and this section of our town? Negative or positive? Do we really want to endanger the lives of our schoolchildren walking that street? It’s one thing for the people who live there on a regular basis, it’s another to have strangers, not familiar with walking paths. You can put 5-6 cars in the driveway. You cannot turn them around. Who benefits from converting this from a residential home to a STR? The owner, the neighbors, the Lexington community? Creating more rental opportunities for out-of-town visitors but taking it off the market for a couple, for a first-time homebuyer, taking that house off the market when we are trying to expand the urban service area doesn’t make sense…I hope you will vote to disapprove this application.”
Top photo by Max Puchalsky
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