BZA okays tourist home

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted unanimously Wednesday night (Aug. 22) to approve a special use permit allowing Susan Hager to use an Old Hollow property as a tourist home.

Hager, the proposed manger of the tourist home, and Kimberly Grimes, the owner of the property, were seeking a special use permit allowing them to turn the Hull School Road property into a rentable tourist home with a maximum occupancy of four people. Several neighbors voiced complaints at the meeting, saying that they were worried about the noise and potential damages.

Jean Morris, one of Hager’s neighbors, said she ran a bed and breakfast for 10 years, and testified how easily things can go wrong in such a venture. Morris said two of her guests made tea while she was away and accidentally left the burner on afterwards. Nothing was damaged, but Morris said that if she hadn’t come back when she did, things could have been much worse.

In response, Hager said that she lived very close to the property – about 200 yards away – and would be constantly monitoring it while it was being used, including changing linens after guests had checked out. She further stressed that most of the guests would be friends of Grimes and would thus be more likely to take care of the property.

“We aren’t trying to create something that will alter [the community],” said Hager.

When BZA chair Robert Weinberg asked how she planned to handle potentially disruptive behavior, Hager replied that she “would admonish them first. Then, if it continued, I would call the police.”

Neighbor Joyce Sloan appealed to the board to include a two-year review clause in the permit. This would mean that the board would pick a criteria to review and would reconsider the permit in two years to determine if the condition had been met. As county administrator John McCarthy pointed out, the problem with that idea would be determining exactly what to review. The board considered several ideas, including the number of police reports filed in that time span, but ultimately decided it was unnecessary to include such a clause.

“It doesn’t behoove them rent this property to people who will simply destroy it,” said board member Christopher Bird.

The board ultimately decided to grant Hager the special use permit, without a two-year review period attached to it.