By

Sean Tubbs



Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, March 16, 2012


Albemarle


County Supervisor


Ann H. Mallek

is seeking changes to the county’s zoning code to allow for more lodging opportunities to be offered in the county’s rural areas in order to promote agribusiness and tourism, with an eye toward more bed and breakfasts.
“This would assist the wineries particularly [because they] already have bridal changing suites and they have had many requests to allow brides’ family to stay on the property, rather than drive all the way back to town,” Mallek said.
Mallek has been encouraging county staff to move forward with a review of the code to make the changes as soon as possible.
The zoning code for

rural area

districts currently allows a provision for “tourist lodging” as a by-right use.
That allows property owners to open up to five rooms in their own home to travelers, or hire an on-site manager to live in the structure. Any more than five rooms and the facility would be considered a hotel. Rooms cannot be opened up in any secondary structures on the property.
“The inhibition is not the limit of five rooms, but the requirement that the rooms be in the main dwelling unit, such as the big house at

Keswick

Winery,” Mallek said.

An inn can also be operated in a designated landmark, but only with a special use permit and if the structure has been operated that way historically.

Amelia McCulley, the county’s rural area planner, said potential changes have been in the works for a while.
“The work on rural area lodging was one of the several items discussed as part of the work on the

rural area

portion of the

comprehensive plan

,” McCulley said.
The topic was to have come before the

Planning Commission

during their ongoing review of the

comprehensive plan

, but it is being expedited at the request of the Board of Supervisors. The panel will now consider whether to proceed at their meeting on Tuesday.
Mallek said she wants the commission to act swiftly so changes can be made before the upcoming wedding season gets underway. If the commission approves the change, it could be before the Board of Supervisors at its May meeting.
“This is a high priority project for board members and something we’d like to see move on quickly,” said Supervisor

Kenneth C. Boyd

.
The supervisors last amended the rural area zoning code in May 2010 when farmers’ markets were added and farm wineries were allowed to offer more events.
Larry Cohen is the owner of Rooster Hill Bed and Breakfast near

Crozet

, which has operated in his home since 1997. He said he believes there are many unofficial bed and breakfasts in the county.
“Those people you kind of hear about word to mouth,” Cohen said. “I know we live just off Miller’s School Road and you’d be surprised how many there are, but they’re not advertised as B&B’s.”
McCulley said she does not know exactly how many bed and breakfasts are operating in

Albemarle

, but said she agrees with Cohen’s observation.
“I don’t think that all existing bed and breakfasts have zoning approval,” McCulley said.
Cohen said he would support the county adopted standards in the zoning code so that people don’t provide bad accommodations. He added he did not need to get any special permission from the county to operate his establishment.
“We started with a business license and then someone came out from the Virginia Department of Health to do an inspection and they issued a permit,” Cohen said. “Of course we had to go get a sales tax number.”
Cohen said he believes the area has a need for more lodging opportunities.
“There are certain calendar events where you can’t find housing of any type in the community, such as the University of Virginia’s graduation,” Cohen said. “There are other times during the year where everything is booked up and people have to go as far as Waynesboro.”
image_printPrint
A "T" on a purple circle

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Interested in what we're working on next? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and never miss a story.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.