Bed and breakfasts center of county zoning discussion

Issue to again come before county zoning, then commissioners

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — The Inn on Decatur is a private home situated in a residential area in Cumberland, Md., centered perfectly between natural and manmade assets, including the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail, the C&O Canal Towpath National Historic Park, the Western Maryland Railroad and the National Transportation Museum, among others, all within walking distance.

county_logoThe experience provides guests a close-to-home experience, featuring a community kitchen where the owner makes every breakfast and dinner from scratch. It’s a place to get away without the disturbances of televisions in a room or worrying about Wi-Fi. And The Inn on Decatur is celebrating its 10th year in business in 2015.

There’s no reason why something like that bed and breakfast can’t be duplicated outside of city limits somewhere in Richmond County. That very possibility was the focus of discussion by the Richmond County Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment members Tuesday night during the board’s regularly scheduled public meeting.

County planner Tracy Parris told board members other jurisdictions, as well as the Richmond County Health Department, approach the conversation with two types of B&Bs in mind — those with accommodations of up to eight people at a time, or a “home,” and a larger facility that could have up to 12 guest rooms, or an “inn.”

Imagine a B&B along Hitchcock Creek in Roberdel or Cordova, for example. Paddle the creek,  Hinson Lake or the Pee Dee River. Walk or run the Hitchcock Creek Greenway or the loops around Hinson Lake (or both). Enjoy a play at Richmond Community Theatre. Visit a nearby museum in Hamlet or Ellerbe.

As presented by Parris, B&Bs — both homes and inns — could become a permitted use. She said the subject came up within the last couple of months and that currently the county’s table of uses does not address B&Bs in any manner. There was no draft ordinance presented Tuesday. Instead, Parris brought with her definitions from the Richmond County Health Department and a copy of the city of Matthews ordinance governing B&Bs. Parris was draft an ordinance and the issue will be brought before the county zoning board in the future. Afterwards, the county commissioners would be required to conduct a public hearing on the matter before taking action.

Board members on Tuesday agreed in principal to consider “inns” and “homes” separately and that each should be a conditional use, which would require a public hearing anytime an application was received by the county planning office. They also agreed that B&Bs could be considered as a conditional use in all residential areas — ag-residential, rural residential, community-residential and village-residential.

Board member Mark Savage said he was primarily concerned with parking and wouldn’t want to allow situations where “neighbors would be against it.”

In the smaller “home” B&B, however, Fred Morris said he felt that a “bed and breakfast guest home wouldn’t be any more disruptive than having my in-laws for Christmas — and we see that in residential areas all the time.”

Both the “home” and “inn” B&B concepts would have some similarities in requirements, not excluding:

* A maximum length of stay for guests;
* A maximum number of bedrooms;
* Sufficient number of parking spaces;
* Smoke detectors;
* CO detectors;
* Must meet existing building codes;
* No cooking in individual guest rooms;
* Manager on site (permanent guest);

In addition, innkeepers could not sell meals to anyone other than overnight guests, and the cost of those meals would be included in the room rental rate.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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