Polk planning board considers home occupation II and vacation rentals

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, May 16, 2013


The Polk County Planning Board is considering new uses for home occupations II and vacation rentals, both to be allowed in the Multiple Use (MU) zoning district.

The planning board met on May 9 and discussed the proposals.

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Home occupations II

A Home Occupations II is being proposed to allow home businesses on at least one acre in the MU district.

The draft states, “any permitted use conducted entirely within a dwelling or accessory building no greater than 2,500 square feet and carried on by the occupants thereof, which use is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling for residence purposes and does not change the character thereof, and I connection with which there is no display and no person, not a resident on the premises, is employed specifically in connection with the customary home occupation, except that not more than one assistant may be employed; provided further, that no mechanical equipment is installed or used except such that is normally used for domestic or professional purposed, and that not over 25 percent of the floor space of any structure is used for home occupations. The parcel must be a minimum of one acre in size.”

Planning board chair Bill Ennis said he feels the wording needs to be tweaked and suggested the statement about one employee simply say the home occupation is allowed to have one non-resident employee.

Areas to allow home occupations II included MU and possibly HC (Highway Commercial) and AR5 (Agriculture Residential) if the residents want to include the use.

The board decided to table home occupations II until next month after cleaning up the wording.

“The great thing about it is number one, it encourages entrepreneurship and those people will have to be invested in the community,” said Polk County Commissioner Ray Gasperson, who attended the meeting.

Residential vacation rental

The residential vacation rental use is being proposed mainly due to White Oak development, where visitors are expected to come to the county on a short-term basis. The use would allow current residents to rent out property short term such as a house, guesthouse or garage apartment. The use will also allow the county to collect occupancy tax on those rentals.

The county has provisions for rental properties, but not provisions for less than 90 days.

The proposed draft defines residential vacation rental as, “the rental of any single-family dwelling, duplex or multi-family or any portion thereof, for occupancy, dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes for any period of time less than 90 days. The term also does not include other transient lodging such as hotels and motels and bed & breakfast establishments, which are otherwise authorized under these regulations.”

Exceptions to the draft include incidental residential vacation rentals, defined to mean no more than two such rentals in any calendar year where the total annual rental period for both rentals does not exceed two weeks provided no advertisement of the availability of the unit.

Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth said currently this type of rental is not allowed in the zoned areas of the county. The county’s current ordinance specifically says not to be used for transient residences.

The intent, Ruth said is to accommodate people who will be coming in for White Oak.

“To have places for people to rent and to benefit our people as well,” she said.

The planning board decided to discuss the proposal further next month after speaking with Polk County Travel and Tourism Director Melinda Young and with the county attorney regarding what happens after 90 days of renting. The planning board also wants to speak with residents who asked for the AR (Agriculture Residential) zoning district as well as the new E (Equestrian) district recently approved at White Oak to see if they are interested in having the vacation rental use in that district as well as in MU.

The next planning board meeting is scheduled for June 13 at 5 p.m.