Woman Outside Short Term Vacation Rental Zone To Appeal Issue To Circuit Court

Thursday, October 10, 2019

An East Chattanooga woman who is outside the city zone where short term vacation rentals are allowed said she plans to appeal the issue to Circuit Court.

Mary Alice Crapo, 65, of 2512 N. Wilder St., said she has been renting out rooms in her house for four decades and it is her main livelihood.

The city has twice cited her to court, saying she was continuing to advertise for short term guests while outside the proper district.

Judge Kevin Wilson, sitting in City Court for Judge Sherry Paty, said the "inferior court" would not be the place to get a decision on her claim that the short term vacation situation in Chattanooga is unconstitutional. He gave her a $25 fine and court costs, saying that would allow her to take the case to a higher court.

Ms. Crapo said the rental situation here "is arbitrary and capricious. It's just a line that Chip Henderson drew. There's many people hurting from this law." Some members of the audience included those living outside the allowable zone who would like to do the profitable rentals.

Ms. Crapo said she has made $26,000 this year on rentals.

Joe Kelly of the city attorney's office, said the short term vacation setup "is simply a zoning ordinance to preserve the character of certain neighborhoods."

Judge Wilson, who is the longtime judge for Collegedale, said, "Other laws restrict peoples' rights, such as being zoned R-1. This isn't a life or liberty issue. This is a property issue."

Inspector Caleb Fisher said he was first alerted that Ms. Crapo was doing rentals by the Host Compliance firm that checks such matters in behalf of the city.

He said she was sent a notice of violation and then later a court summons. She was later sent a second citation to court.

Ms. Crapo said she had a list of many court rulings that she said support her position.

Judge Wilson said she may want to hire an attorney for the appeal.

He also suggested that she rent her rooms for longer than 30 days, which would be legal. He said he has a condo near UTC. He said he thought about renting it short term, but found it also was out of district. He said he now rents it for longer than 30 days.


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