WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Planning Commission on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would allow some homes to operate on short-term rentals.

The unanimous vote came after a number of Williamsburg residents spoke out against a proposed amendment allowing some city residences to operate as short-term whole-home rentals with a special-use permit. .

Such rentals, residents say, could have a detrimental impact on residential neighborhoods.

“We feel, like many other people, that our neighborhoods that we cherish are faltering,” Richmond Road resident Ruth Kaiser said at the public forum. “This [amendment] I’m afraid it will topple over and create a city none of us imagined when we moved here.

The plaintiff, Thomas Patton, who owns and operates the Aldrich House Bed & Breakfast on Capitol Court, was seeking to change current short-term rental regulations.

The proposed amendment suggested changing requirements to allow short-term rentals in non-owner occupied housing located along city entrance corridors on lots abutting major streets like Capitol Landing Road, Jamestown Road and Moreover. The amendment would have allowed the rental of the entire dwelling with a special use permit as well as the holding of weddings, receptions and other special events on properties larger than one acre.

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly authorized localities to regulate short-term rentals. By definition, short-term rental includes a room or space intended to be occupied for a period of less than 30 days. In 2019, the Williamsburg City Council voted to allow short-term rentals in certain areas of the city, as long as the landlord is present during the rental term and only one room in a single-family home occupied by the owner is rented at a time.

According to a report by Planning Department staff, ” [short-term rental] regulations were established to strike a balance between free enterprise and the preservation of the residential character of the city’s neighborhoods.

In previous discussions, “City Council has recognized the popularity and convenience of [short-term rentals] but concluded that their potential to negatively impact communities with increased traffic, noise and other nuisances outweighed the benefits,” the report continues.

Another consideration mentioned in the report was the potential impact on the local housing market, which could potentially be negatively affected in terms of housing affordability and availability, with short-term rentals potentially increasing housing costs and decreasing the number of permanent dwellings available for tenants and owners. .

“We need long-term residents more than anything,” said Williamsburg resident David Kranbuehl. “It’s the key to our economy, to our downtown. … Frankly I hear nothing positive and everything negative [in the proposal].”

Before the vote, committee members expressed similar concerns about the proposal’s potential ramifications.

“This idea has been very carefully evaluated over the past three or four years and I haven’t heard anything today that would make me change the decision that was made at the time,” said Bill Hamilton, member of the Planning committee. “I’m worried about both a slippery slope if we start down this path and the impacts on neighborhoods where it would be permitted.”

Sian Wilkerson, [email protected], 757-342-6616