Planning Commission Goes With Airbnb-er Despite Heavy Opposition

Monday, June 14, 2021

Michael R. Smith stood alone in a room crowded with opponents of his plans for a short term vacation rental on Crestwood Trail on Lake Chickamauga.

Planning Commission Chairman Ethan Collier told him, "You're outnumbered."

But the commission ended up ruling in favor of the request for a special permit.

Only City Councilman Darrin Ledford was opposed, saying he was concerned that water directly behind the house is over 20 feet deep and neighbors testified they rarely saw anyone at the house.

A group of neighbors said they were concerned that their rural retreat would be spoiled by a parade of short-term visitors.

One woman said, "I am terrified having strangers next door to me. It's a very scary thought." 

Another neighbor who had moved up from Atlanta "to get away from what was going on there," said he was "scared to death" about what could happen at the short term rental place across the street from him.

Another man said, "We moved here to have peace and quiet. It's a quiet place and we like it that way."

He said the owner of the house would be making money and the neighbors would be spending time policing the place.

There are no other short term vacation rentals in that vicinity, it was noted.

Mr. Smith said he had moved to Hamilton County with his young children and his mother in 1998. He said they bought the lake house, then his mother moved to Hixson. He said he wanted to rent out upstairs portions of the large residence.

He said he has seven rental properties in Chattanooga and was familiar with making sure his tenants behave.

Planning Commission member Mary Kay Hiatt said she felt it was a stretch for neighbors to be "terrified" about the guests. She said it was just as likely that someone could buy a house in the neighborhood and turn out to be a threat.

Another commission member said the rentals allowed out of town people to experience all that Chattanooga offers and brought in income for owners.

Councilman Ledford made a motion to deny, but he did not get a second. Then it was approved.

The final decision will be up to the County Commission in July.

The commission approved two other short term vacation rentals who had no opposition.

They were by Tim and Lori McKeel at 16127 Lakewood Dr. and Kristen Rodgers at 7314 Creek Ridge Dr. 
 


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