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Town takes step to prohibit short-term rental properties

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The town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen has approved an ordinance on second reading prohibiting short-term rental properties, with the exception of bed and breakfasts.

The ordinance could hinder growing operations like Airbnb and Homeaway.

“Short-term rental properties are becoming increasingly popular because they provide alternative lodging options,” wrote Assistant Town Administrator Athanasia Lewis, “which are different from traditional hotel/motel establishments.

“Preserving the integrity of Collierville neighborhoods is one of the town’s highest priorities and allowing uses that are fundamentally unregulated and unsupervised compromises the quality of life for our residents,” Lewis continued.

Sheila Thomas currently operates an Airbnb in Collierville and is opposed to the ordinance.

She noted that there are currently three providers of short-term rentals in Collierville.

“All three of us are very different,” she wrote to The Independent. “Our homes are different and are in different parts of Collierville. Our goal is to work with the town to move towards regulating, not prohibiting.

“Our guests are vetted and approved by us, the hosts, before accepting the reservation,” she noted. “Two of us live full-time in our home. I rent my guest house, which is detached and another rents their full upstairs. The third has a home in Minnesota and they rent their full house (with local supervision) when they are traveling.

“To prohibit short-term rentals will not be a good thing for Collierville,” she added. “To regulate them we are happy to work with the town. I love sharing my town with my guests.”

Thomas said permitting visitors to stay in a house, rather than a hotel, “allows them to experience Collierville.”

A short-term rental property is defined as an existing dwelling or unit used for transient occupancy. It can be a mobile home, attached or detached dwelling, townhouse or modular home.

Transient occupancy is considered the rental of a property for less than 30 days and the town defines a dwelling unit as a “room or rooms connected together, constituting a separate independent housekeeping establishment for one family only, for owner occupancy or for rental, lease or other occupancy for a period of 30 or more continuous days, physically separated from any other rooms or dwelling units and containing independent cooking and sleeping facilities.”

Germantown already prohibits short-term rentals. They are regulated in Memphis.

“As the demand for short-term rentals increases,” wrote Lewis, “municipalities are adopting ordinances to regulate or prohibit them in their communities.”

The ordinance states that short-term rentals threaten the “high quality of life in the town’s neighborhoods.”

The town’s Planning Commission has already recommended the ordinance for approval.

In related news:

Board members approved the final site plan and development agreement for a McDonald’s restaurant on the north side of W. Poplar Ave. west of Byhalia Road.

The 5,206-square-foot restaurant will be build on 1.17 acres. The developers have stated that they do not agree with a condition that requires a seventh lane re-striped on Poplar Ave. to accommodate the anticipated traffic demand.

Alderman Billy Patton voted against the final site plan.

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