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Event home approach discussions continue in Sandbridge

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

COURTHOUSE — Discussions about event homes are still underway, and city staffers working with residents of Sandbridge and those who represent owners of the homes have provided alternatives to a previous draft approach.

Officials said that nothing is set in stone, and the drafts are meant to spur discussion and, hopefully, consensus on how to deal with the issue.

Concern is centered in Sandbridge, but City Zoning Administrator Karen Lasley has noted that rules ultimately adopted by the city council would be in effect throughout the city.

Lasley said during an interview on Tuesday, Jan. 19, that information is being provided to civic leagues in bayfront and oceanfront areas of the city.

“The only issues we’re having are in Sandbridge,” she noted.

In November, the city staff drafted possible rules that might regulate the homes, which are mansions marketed as destinations for large gatherings, and they presented information on the issue to the city council.

There have been growing concern about the homes among some Sandbridge residents. Though the vacation rental market is central to the community, it is a residential place where streets are narrowand parking is in short supply.

Lasley and Bill Macali, a deputy city attorney who specializes in land use issues, presented information on draft options for dealing with the homes to the Sandbridge Beach Civic League during a meeting on Monday, Jan. 18, at Sandbridge Community Chapel United Methodist Church.

Alternatives differ in what is defined as an “event function,” among other things.

One approach discussed with city council defined this as a function in a rented single family home, such as a wedding, with 75 or more people in attendance.  An alternative would classify events as having 50 or more people, according to presentation notes Lasley provided.

Staff shared concerns about including a minimum number of attendees, but they hoped to seek ideas about that point through discussions with interested parties. Alternatives also differ in the number of days that the rental of the home is for, among other things.

The civic league in Sandbridge has gathered presentations at its website, sandbridgecivicleague.org, under the heading of community news toward the bottom of the page.

Information about alternatives, an ordinance proposal and reports on issues are also available to community members at the site.

The civic league also will form another committee to work with the city and others on the issue, said Cheryl Caloras, vice president of the civic league, on Thursday, Jan. 21. The group previously had a committee that identified concerns about the homes.

“We will continue to work on the issues with the city,” said Joan Davis, president of the civic league, on Thursday, Jan. 21. “They have done a wonderful job getting as far as they have.”

Davis also applauded the city staff for attending the meeting in Sandbridge on a holiday.

“They even came on their day off,” she said.

As of this past summer, there are about 50 event homes in the Sandbridge area, according to the Sandbridge Beach Business Association.

Overall, 620 of the 1,386 single-family parcels in Sandbridge are in the overall rental pool, according to the association.


 

Ed. note — The Independent News has been covering the issue since last summer. An archive of the previous newspapers stories about event homes can be found by clicking on this link.


© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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