Sunday, December 3, 2023

Ford’s Colony presses residents to vote on short-term rental restrictions

Ford’s Colony, one of the largest gated communities in James City County, has proposed prohibiting short-term rentals, barring “unexpected hardships.” (WYDaily/file photo/Pixabay)
Ford’s Colony, one of the largest gated communities in James City County, has proposed prohibiting short-term rentals, barring “unexpected hardships.” (WYDaily/file photo/Pixabay)

Attention Ford’s Colony residents: Voting on restricting short-term rentals in the neighborhood is closing fast.

In the next few days, Ford’s Colony residents should vote online to allow or restrict short-term rentals such as Airbnb, the Ford’s Colony Homeowners Association wrote on their website.

On Jan. 2, Ford’s Colony opened voting to move a rule restricting short-term occupancy less than 90 days into the Declaration of Protective Covenants.

The rule was first put into place last fall, but if Ford’s Colony residents vote in favor of the move, the change will “further strengthen our legal standing and reinforce our future enforcement efforts,” according to an announcement published in “Talk of the Colony” in December.

Two-thirds of households must vote in favor of the amendment for it to pass.

Ford’s Colony is “closing in” on the two-thirds requirement, Drew Mulhare, Ford’s Colony HOA general manager, wrote in the May 5 edition of the “Talk of the Colony” magazine. Mulhare wrote the HOA hopes to complete the voting process by June.

The online ballot can be found on the Ford’s Colony Homeowners Association website. Paper ballots can also be printed and submitted to officials.

James City County allows short-term rentals in certain zoning districts, but that doesn’t mean homeowners can operate an Airbnb or other rentals such as TurnKey.

Adam Kinsman, county attorney for James City County, told WYDaily in January that neighborhoods with homeowners associations, rules and covenants are able to restrict or allow short-term rentals as they see fit — whether the county has approved the rentals for that zoning district or not.

Property owners agree to their HOA’s rules and covenants in their deeds.

Ford’s Colony has already taken “compliance action” once in 2017 after a renter in Ford’s Colony used the home for an Airbnb overnight rental. The rental caused concerns with access to the gated community, parking issues and disturbances, the magazine states.

With the two-thirds vote, elevating the rule to the Ford’s Colony Declaration of Protective Covenants would give the neighborhood administration more leverage in legal situations.

“Unexpected hardships” such as military transfers may be considered exemptions from the short-term rental restriction.

If the rule is added to the declaration, it will be recorded in the courthouse land records, meaning all new homeowners would receive that information when they join the neighborhood, according to the magazine announcement.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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