Board ends vacation rentals on Jetton Road
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Jetton Road homeowners will not be allowed to continue renting out their house after numerous violations and appealing a board ruling to end vacation rentals in the neighborhood, commissioners decided Monday, Jan. 23.
Commissioners first voted three years ago to do away with vacation rentals in most single-family residential neighborhoods, but allowed homeowners with vacation rentals three years to continue renting and earn back investments. That period is set to expire Feb. 2.
But homeowners Lisa and Steve Haimbaugh said at the Jan. 23 board meeting that three years was not long enough to recoup their investment. They requested a 30-year extension.
The Haimbaughs said they purchased the home for $1.1 million in 2006 and sunk an additional $700,000 into the property to construct a garage, with a four-bedroom apartment over it, and perform other repairs on the lakefront property.
During the quasi-judicial public hearing, Steve Haimbaugh testified he and his wife bought the Lake Norman home as their dream property and had the intention of only renting out the garage apartment long enough to tear down and rebuild a new home on the property. Their primary residence is in south Charlotte.
“I fully understand why you went the route of eliminating vacation rentals, I may not agree with that, but we sunk our life savings into this and put all our eggs in this basket, so we’re looking to get our investment back out over the 30-year period,” Steve Haimbaugh said.
On average, the vacation rental generates about $50,000 each year, he said.
And Lisa Haimbaugh said that had she and her husband known the town was going to do away with vacation rentals on the lakefront, they wouldn’t have purchased the home or built the addition.
About 12 of the Haimbaugh’s neighbors showed up Monday in opposition of the extension, testifying the vacation property was disruptive and negatively impacted property values.
Neighbors presented police reports of noise complaints, photographs of renters and guest cars on neighbors’ lawns and emails from real estate agents and appraisers stating concerns about the impact of the vacation rental on the adjoining properties’ values.
Lisa Godfrey, attorney for two of those property owners, produced an affidavit from a previous suit signed by Steve Haimbaugh saying he had no intention of leasing the property after February 2012.
Commissioner John Bradford, who is in the rental property business, said he understood the sensitivity of the issue, but that he was going to deny their request because they had clearly violated the terms outlined in the original vacation rental permit the Haimbaugh’s signed with the town in 2008.
The permit dictated that a rental can’t exceed one family at a time, all parking has to be in a garage or in the driveway, no more than three people per bedroom without an event permit, compliance with the town’s noise ordinance — and more than three violations in six months is grounds for revocation of the permit. The Haimbaughs had eight violations in six months.
“Property rights are sacred, but in my mind, your rights end where mine begin, and it’s clear that over the years this has been a detriment to the neighbors,” added Commissioner Lynette Rinker. “… and if we go back to Mr. Haimbaugh’s testimony he signed during the lawsuit, by virtue of him saying he had no intention of renting beyond this period, in my mind, regardless of the change in circumstances, he understood and was ready to comply, and the three year period was adequate to receive due compensation for the loss of the permit.”
The board voted unanimously to deny the application.
In other board business
Commissioners voted to send a strongly worded letter to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners regarding inconsistencies with the county’s 2011 property revaluation. Commissioners are hoping that sending the letter will help answer key questions regarding the process of appeal and details of how the assessments were made, so that homeowners who are still awaiting their appeal will have better direction.
While it’s too late for the board to do anything about this year’s revaluation process, Mayor Jeff Tarte appointed a task force, with Commissioners Chuck Travis, Jeff Hare, himself, town manager Anthony Roberts, Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant and residents to look at the revaluation process, what was done wrong, and what, if any, legislative changes could be made to make the process more fair for residents in the future.
Commissioners also voted to approve a $104,000 budget amendment to close on property at 20708 Catawba Ave., which the town board asked staff to pursue for its potential impact on urban renewal. The purchase is funded with use of fund balance, and the town could close on the property as early as Jan.31.