Short-term rental regulations revived for next agenda

City Administrator Carl Francis said he intends to put a revised short-term rental bill on the Webb City Council’s Sept. 26 agenda. The Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday voted to recommend a handful of changes to the original bill.

The original bill, similar to the new short-term rental law in Joplin, was rejected last month by P&Z and then voted down 8-0 by the council.

At times during Monday’s P&Z meeting, Francis called for a show of hands to gauge the commission members’ mood on the “sticking points” of the bill.

The commission reached a consensus on the following:

• Short-term duration – 28 days or less. Anything more than a month would be the same as being a resident/long-term renter.

• Parking – The parking limitation is removed. So there will be no further restriction than otherwise in a single-family residential zone. The original bill required providing one parking space per bedroom.

• Administrative approval – No change from the original bill, which allows city staff to approve or deny a short-term rental request – as opposed to a P&Z public hearing on each request.

• Appeal to P&Z – This change allows an administrative denial to be appealed to P&Z, not the Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

• Automatic rejection if 50% of neighbors object – The original 30% (which Joplin has) was felt unfair.

• Notification with postage-paid, self-return envelopes to be sent to homeowners within 250 feet – It was originally 185 feet (the same as with most public hearings).

• Yard-sign notification – This was omitted from the original bill but considered necessary by commission members.

• Two guests per bedroom occupancy – This was left the same as in the original bill.

• In perpetuity – Unlike other special use permits, a short-term rental permit would not need to be renewed every two years. However, it could be revoked at any time based on a code violation. That’s the same as it was in the original bill.

“I’m just trying to get an ordinance to council that you recommend,” said Francis.

The vote to do that was 5-1. Ryan Evitts said he voted no because he thinks public hearings should be held for requests instead of reaching a decision at the administrative level.

An argument in favor of making it an administrative decision was that it’s easier for neighbors to make their opinions known by mail instead of attending public meetings.

Commission member Melissa Annis, a real estate agent, said “There are a great uses for Airbnbs (short-term rentals). I see them every day.”

She added that the goal is to reach a happy medium between making it (renting short-term) unfeasible and wide open with no restrictions.”

In other action, the commission recommended to council:

• A special use permit for Burns Investments to use the apartments on the top floor of its new 12-plex south of the roundabout as short-term rental units.

• The rezoning of 315 and 317 Shenandoah St. from single-family (R-1) to multi-family (R-3) residential. Those lots are currently vacant. Tracy Nance, 311 Shenandoah St., is the applicant.

• A special use permit to convert the historic house at 28 S. Webb St. to a wedding venue, especially for outdoor weddings. Kurt Baker represented the applicant, Apple Healthcare, 16 S. Pennsylvania St.

Francis announced that an agenda item had been withdrawn prior to the meeting. Tom Beckham had requested a special use permit for a boat repair shop at 812 E. 17th St.