Those operating short-term rentals in Joplin would be required to obtain a municipal license and comply with the requirements of a new ordinance if a zoning change and permit by-law received final approval from city council.
The council put forward a licensing requirement for these rental operations on first reading at a meeting on December 20. The final decision will come at Monday’s board meeting.
Troy Bolander, director of planning, development and outreach services for the town of Joplin, said those who offer short-stay house or apartment rentals do not need to have a license or a municipal permit previously. City zoning code relating to overnight accommodation operations in private homes applied to bed and breakfast operations.
The city has started requiring operators to obtain a special use permit for overnight rentals where the owner does not live on the premises, such as a bed and breakfast. Special use permits were required after neighborhood complaints were filed against a few of those operating. Bolander said about three short-term rentals had sparked objections in the neighborhood in recent months.
City staff and the city attorney worked on a zoning code amendment that would allow and regulate rentals.
On December 20, a public hearing on the draft ordinance and permit was held. No resident spoke for or against the proposed change.
Bolander said the ordinance was drawn up after community development planner Keegan Stanton gathered information about regulations put in place by other communities. The staff also used the board’s comments regarding the rentals.
The Special Use Permit process resulted in complaints from applicants that it took three to four months to obtain the permit, demanding that applications be heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission, which made a recommendation. to the board. Council then held a separate hearing.
City staff felt action was needed due to the growing number of short-term rentals. Problems with parking, large groups causing disruption in neighborhoods and other issues related to the largely unattended use of properties in neighborhoods had started to occur. The city filed a lawsuit in city court last year over a case where the infractions continued as the city worked with a landlord to resolve issues with a short-term rental.
Complaints in the three cases handled by the city have since been resolved, Bolander said.
A big problem ?
City officials searched rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO, finding 70-100 listings at different times for rentals here.
âAs a matter of fact, it’s not a big deal. But when you have a complaint, it’s a big deal, as you’ve seen “in cases reported to the city by residents of the Sunset Ridge and Silver Creek subdivision, Bolander said. These residents have come in large numbers to speak to the Planning and Zoning Council and the Council about the problems created by tenants of unsupervised rentals.
Bolander said the city also obtained information from AirDNA Data, which reports on the industry.
He said the number of short-term rentals would likely increase with average daily rental rates of $ 94 between March and October. He said AirDNA Data figures show an average occupancy of Joplin rentals of 79% with an average monthly income of $ 1,359 or about $ 16,000 per year, an amount which he says represents significant income for the operators.
âThis has been growing steadily since 2018 and the trajectory has increased during COVID-19,â with three-bedroom guest rentals averaging around six guests per stay, he said.
The new ordinance would set density limits to protect neighborhoods, Bolander said. It would take 200 feet between short term rentals, which would limit them to about two per block. There cannot be more than two rental units on the same property.
There is a capacity requirement of three beds or less per residence with a maximum of two people per room. Those places with four or more bedrooms would be limited to an average of 1.5 people per bedroom.
Operators are required to have at least one off-street parking space per room. Bolander said the requirement would restrict the number of rooms that can be rented at a property.
The zoning ordinance would also prohibit holding events, parties or wedding receptions at accommodation properties.
It would also require that rules be posted in properties and that a visible emergency contact be listed with a visible certificate of occupancy, business license and a garbage collection schedule.
There is an application fee of $ 550, which is the same as for other zoning applications, and applicants must provide information to ensure compliance with the regulations.
However, the applications will be administratively approved rather than going through the process of zoning hearings and council hearings. This way, municipal staff can process requests within 30 days and expedite the permitting process to address homeowner concerns.
When a request is filed, the city will notify residents within 185 feet of the property and they will have 15 days to submit a protest petition. If more than 30% of residents within that perimeter protest a hosting site, the permit will be denied, Bolander said. Applicants can appeal to the city’s board of directors. If they disagree with this decision, appeals can be made to the circuit court.
If there are repeated or serious violations, city officials are authorized by the ordinance to revoke the permit.
During the implementation of the ordinance, the application fee will be waived for those who have already paid for a special use permit. In addition, the city would suspend the density limitation while a request for an existing operator is processed.
A commercial license to operate would cost at least $ 30 and these fees would increase with the income generated by the rental. It would also require an inspection of the property.
City Councilor Chuck Copple said many rentals list a sofa bed in the living room. He asked what the city would look at to determine capacity. Bolander said a sofa bed should count as a bedroom.
Councilor Doug Lawson asked if city officials have considered whether the city’s 4% lodging tax should be collected.
City attorney Peter Edwards said he had researched the matter. He said there is a legal authority in Missouri for the city to assess the 4% tax on short-term rentals. The city code, however, limits the tax to establishments that have eight or more rooms to rent.
The attorney said he was aware of two cities that have entered into voluntary agreements with VRBO for tax assessments. City officials are expected to decide whether to address the city code and collect the accommodation tax on rentals, but the city attorney will continue his analysis of the state of laws and practices in this regard and will report to the board, he said.
City Councilor Christina Williams asked how city staff would notify the public of the change when it is enacted. Bolander said there will be a public information campaign and other forms of advertising to make it known that people need to be licensed.
City Councilor Anthony Monteleone asked what would happen if an operator did not get a license. Bolander said he would work with the city attorney to put in place a warning procedure.
There was also talk that a year after council promulgated the ordinance, there may be a need to adjust city bylaws.