Beaufort News

Short-term rental solution continues to elude Beaufort planning panel

Beaufort-Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission members appeared supportive Monday of allowing short-term rentals -- those of less than 30 days -- in at least some of Beaufort's residential districts, possibly starting with a pilot program in the Northwest Quadrant neighborhood.

But after an hour of discussion -- including several comments from the public -- and no consensus on how to proceed, the advisory group decided it will revisit the issue next month.

At one point, commission member Greg Huddy made a motion to recommend the city proceed with a pilot program in the Northwest Quadrant.

But commission member Alan Dechovitz said he felt like he was being asked to vote without having all the specifics of such a program in front of him.

Huddy later withdrew the motion.

The commission did, however, recommend City Council deny a pending application from John and Erica Dickerson to allow short-term rentals in all residential districts by special exception. They now are allowed only in commercial districts.

The issue arose in July, when the Dickersons applied to allow short-term rentals in Beaufort's historic district by special exception. Zoning allows such rentals in a home they own on Charles Street, but not in one they own on Duke Street.

After extensive discussion and input from city staff, the application was changed last year to request short-term rentals be allowed in all residential districts.But commission members tabled the recommendation last month, saying they wanted to know if individuals who were recently asked by the city to halt the illegal rentals could get temporary clearance to operate while consultants investigated the issue.

However, Beaufort can't grandfather in facilities that were never approved to begin with, Planning Administrator Libby Anderson said.

Commission member Jim Hicks said he still thinks the group should recommend that City Council find a way to allow those forced to halt illegal rentals to apply for a 12-month license while the staff works on a permanent solution.

The Dickersons said Monday they planned to withdraw their application and instead try to rezone their property on Duke Street to a commercial designation, a route commission members suggested last month.