The Rappahannock County Board of Zoning Appeals approved an application for a special use permit to allow Charlotte Taylor to operate her residence on On the Edge Lane in Washington as a tourist home.
At the BZA’s regular meeting on Feb 22, Taylor told the members that she has had the home for 33 years and considers it her primary residence. In recent years, however, in order to be closer to hospitals, she also spends time at a condo she owns in Charlottesville. On those weekends and when she’s traveling she would like to rent her home out.
Additionally, she said, “One reason I am doing this is because during the Art Tour, there are not enough places for people to stay.”
Taylor’s application, first considered last November by the county’s planning commission, stated that she would accept only 30 short-term rentals per year and for groups no larger than four people. She plans to find rentals through Airbnb and other online rental sites.
In discussing the application, the BZA members concentrated mostly on one issue: whether On the Edge Lane itself was wide enough, with the adequate right-of-way, to serve the property as a tourist home. Under the county’s zoning ordinance, a tourist home is a commercial use, requiring more rigid standards for access than a private residence.
Taylor’s property is at the top of a long driveway accessible from Fodderstack Road (State road 628). The driveway cuts through the property of a neighbor, who has given Taylor rights for access to her home. There are no other residences on On the Edge Lane, but two hundred acres behind Taylor’s property are zoned for 25-acre residential lots.
At the request of BZA member David Konick, Joe Webb, an area land use engineer at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), attended the meeting to help the board understand VDOT’s requirements for access from a state road and the implications of the future development on the 200 acres.
Konick voiced concern about the ability of emergency equipment to access and maneuver on Taylor’s property. And other members were concerned about access to the 200 acres, should it be subdivided.
“My understanding of the application,” said Webb, “is that [her property] will function as a rental home, so [On the Edge Lane] is still a private entrance whether the road is used by the owner or a rental tenant.“ As the property’s entrance already exists and there are no other properties on the lane, the “driveway geometrics” are adequate from VDOT’s standpoint, he said.
Regarding the 200 acres behind Taylor’s property, Webb refused to speculate about the future, but said that “if the owner wants to subdivide in the future, at that point it would trigger an assessment [of the potential entrance by VDOT], but not before.”
During the public comment session of the meeting, Chris Parrish, county supervisor from the Stonewall-Hawthorne district indicated he supported Taylor’s application.
“The county is looking for extra income,” he said. “Given that the use of [Taylor’s] cabin won’t be changed substantially, it seems like a good candidate [for a tourist home].”
The final BZA vote was four to one in favor of the application, with Konick delivering the only nay.