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An application to use a three-bedroom house in a residential York County neighborhood is going to the Board of Supervisors with a narrow vote to recommend approval from the Planning Commission.
Queens Lake resident Jonathan Westbrook is not home very often — as a ship’s captain, he travels frequently, especially in the winter — and is hoping to rent out his two-story house on Valor Court to tourists while he is away.
The application to use his house as a tourist home was analyzed by the York County Planning Commission Wednesday night and is heading to the Board of Supervisors with recommendations for approval from three of the five commissioners.
Commissioners Glenn Brazelton, Melissa Magowan and Todd Matthes voted in favor of the application, while Mark Suiter and Montgoussaint Jons opted to recommend denial. Commissioners Tim McCulloch and Richard Myer were absent.
Suiter and Jons heeded the warning of Interim County Administrator Mark Carter, who said requirements were put in place several years ago when a homeowner in the Cobble Creek neighborhood started renting out the property on a weekly basis and received complaints from neighbors.
“It created concern about the frequency of turnover, not knowing who those occupants might be,” Carter said.
The only other tourist home approved in the county was a one-bedroom cottage owned by people who lived in a house also on the property on Moore House Road in Yorktown.
Jons and Suiter, who voted against the application, had concerns about the tourist home being in a residential neighborhood instead of a tourist area like Yorktown and were worried about setting a precedent.
“What if it’s a much denser neighborhood next time?” Suiter asked. “That gives me concern.”
Although Westbrook has not seen any opposition from neighbors, and no one spoke for or against the application at Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, Carter advised commissioners to require Westbrook’s application be evaluated after a year. Under that condition, Westbrook must garner input from the surrounding neighbors in a year and bring the results back to the county.
Westbrook said after the meeting he did not anticipate his neighbors disapproving of how he uses his home.
“I’m bringing tourists to a tourist town,” he said.
He told commissioners he wanted to offset the costs of owning the home and not being present often.
If the application is approved by the Board of Supervisors, the home would be limited to three rentals per month.
Brazelton, one of the commissioners who recommended approval, said the county should soon start looking at the idea of tourists homes on a larger scale.
“You’ve got Home Away and all these websites that are going to start showing up around York County pretty soon,” he said, referring to online websites that allow users to post their homes as vacation rentals. “We kind of need to put our arms around it and address it pretty soon.”
The application will go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final ruling at its July 21 meeting.