Following months of discussion, on October 13, Middleburg Town Council adopted formal rules and regulations governing what’s commonly referred to as the “Airbnb” phenomenon, or more accurately,  “short term rentals” of residential properties in Middleburg of “fewer than 30 consecutive days” duration.

The legislation was driven by often expressed concerns about Airbnb rentals that have been occurring in Middleburg for some time according to Town Planner and Zoning Administrator Will Moore.  At issue were also the details of how Salamander Development will provide professional short term rental administration and property management services for owners of new residences planned for construction on its property on the north side of Middleburg.

With the General Assembly in Richmond moving unsuccessfully to pass legislation governing both control and taxation of such rentals and prominent

U.S. Senators calling for FTC probes of  “whether short-term rental websites such as Airbnb are taking housing away from long-term renters and pushing up prices” Council’s actions, which began as early as its October 2015 work session, have been praised as both prescient and timely.

Key Rules in Brief

Who can rent?

A room or space may be rented out for no more than a total of 30 consecutive days:

1. ONLY if it is part of a building primarily used as a residence;  2. ONLY if any applicable state and local taxes are collected and reported on the rental; and 3. The rental does NOT include group occupancies, defined as “simultaneous occupancy by more than one party under separate contracts.”

Where can such rentals take place?

ONLY in properties located in R-1, R-2, or R-3 zoning districts, and ONLY if the owners of those properties have obtained a Special Use Permit from the Town Government.  Each permit will take into consideration the rental’s “potential impacts on surrounding properties and the community as a whole.”

What other standards and requirements must be met?

A written, formal, property management plan must accompany any and all requests for a rental permit.  Among other things it must include:  a 24-hour-a-day means of contacting the property owner or manager, who themselves must stay within 20 miles of Middleburg for the course of the rental;  “how-to” instructions for booking and managing rentals;  procedures for collecting and reporting fees and taxes; floor plans;  contacts for emergency repairs; and access, upon request, for the Town’s zoning administrator or staff to conduct inspections.

Only space in single-family detached “dwellings” may be rented, and the “dwelling” must be primarily used for “residential occupancy” for at least 183 days per year.  Space may be rented out for no more than 180 days per year.

The rental must sit on at least a 10,000 square-foot lot and be at least 25 feet away from any neighboring residence.

No one-day or one-night rentals are allowed.  A minimum two-night stay is required.

No signage indicating the residence is available for rental is allowed.

Maximum rental occupancy may not exceed two guests per bedroom plus two other guests.  (I.e. a 4-bedroom house could accommodate a maximum of 10 guests.)

Parking must be available, in “improved” off-street spaces, for one car per guest bedroom.

The owner of the property must carry at least half a million dollars in liability insurance

After review and public hearings Council approved the new regulations without objection.

Free Timed Parking

After lengthy review and consideration Town Council has committed itself to free parking, in places for up to three hours at a time, enforced by police using a new “hand-held digital chalk” system.

Currently the town budgets roughly $70,000 per year for parking meter replacement alone.

The new system will require an investment of approximately $3,500 to create and install 16 new parking time limit signs, or roughly two per block.  The hand-held “digital chalk” machines and software required will cost less than $10,000.  Annual maintenance for the entire system is projected at around $2,500.

Street Complete

Town Administrator Martha Semmes reported on October 13 that the Route 50 improvement project had reached its final “punch list” stage, and should be completed with the installation of six street lights, due for mid-October delivery and installation by the end of the month.

October 27 Audit Report

Town Treasurer Ashley Bott, facing her first full-fiscal-year audit as Town Treasurer, reports that audit field work had been completed during September and that a final report was due for review by Town Administrator Semmes and Treasurer Bott on October 18.  If all goes well the auditors are scheduled to report to Town Council at its October work session.

Visit Loudoun Update

Beth Erickson, President and CEO of Visit Loudoun made a formal presentation to Town Council at its October 13 meeting.  She reported that the value of media exposure generated by Visit Loudoun’s activities on behalf of tourism was well over $4 million.  Efforts to promote the County in Canada and the People’s Republic of China, she noted, have been especially successful;

Shiloh Church 150th

Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution “in honor and appreciation of the 150th anniversary of East Marshal Street’s Shiloh Baptist Church.  The Church was organized just two years after the end of the Civil War, in 1867, by the Rev. Leland Warring and has long provided active and effective leadership in the areas of civil rights, education, business and community service.

Kathy Jo Shea

Honored by Council

Council also formally recognized and honored outgoing Town Council Member Kathy Jo Shea for her admirable and faithful service on Council from July 1, 2008 to October 15, 2016.