Clallam commissioners start to mull rules for new vacation rentals, B&Bs

Clallam commissioners start to mull rules for new vacation rentals, B&Bs

PORT ANGELES — A proposal to establish standards for new vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfast inns in Clallam County has arrived on the commissioners’ dais.

The three commissioners Monday held a preliminary discussion on a draft ordinance that would limit vacation rentals and B&Bs to a maximum of 10,000 square feet and five guest rooms.

Single-family dwellings larger than 4,000 square feet would need a conditional use permit to be used for overnight accommodations, according to the proposal.

The Clallam County Planning Commission voted 6-3 to recommend the ordinance — and 9-0 to recommend associated definitions — after a Feb. 1 public hearing. The advisory committee held five work sessions on the companion ordinances.

County commissioners will consider adopting the proposal after their own public hearing next month. A date for that hearing has not been set.

No commissioner objected to the proposal Monday.

“I’m going to respect the Planning Commission,” Commissioner Bill Peach said in a nearly four-hour work session.

“They’ve wrestled with this issue for some time, and I trust their recommendations. I am very interested in the response from the industry, and I believe that a public hearing is going to generate that.”

Commissioners cut short the discussion because Peach and Board Chairman Mark Ozias had to leave for a Clallam Transit board meeting.

The Board of County Commissioners is expected to revisit the issue next Monday and call for a public hearing Tuesday.

“It’s certainly a potentially contentious and complex subject,” said Ozias, while gauging his colleagues’ interest in a continued discussion.

The county Planning Commission heard split testimony from industry proponents and residents concerned about maintaining the rural character of their neighborhoods.

Must of the concern stemmed from a 32,000-square-foot bed-and-breakfast proposed for 695 E. Sequim Bay Road.

The ordinance before commissioners would not affect the 32,000-square-foot B&B because that application has been vested by the county.

It would amend existing standards for vacation rentals and establish standards for bed-and-breakfasts in unincorporated areas.

Bed-and-breakfasts are now regulated only by definitions. They are defined in county code as single-family dwellings occupied by the owner or manager with five or fewer rooms for overnight accommodations.

Dissenting members of the Planning Commission favored an allowance for up to eight guest rooms, with a conditional use permit requirement for six or more rooms.

The majority of the commission determined that a five-room cap would “respect the character of the rural zones,” Principal Planner Kevin LoPiccolo said.

The full commission supported the 10,000-square-foot limitation, LoPiccolo said.

The average single-family dwelling in the county’s rural zones is about 2,700 square feet, he added.

Commissioner Randy Johnson noted that a 10,000-square-foot dwelling on a 1-acre lot would have a “different kind of look and feel and impact” than the same structure on a 10-acre lot.

LoPiccolo said the conditional use permit requirement for rentals and inns larger than 4,000 square feet would “help monitor, or at least mitigate, some of the concerns that may arise.”

“It also gives the opportunity for people that do live within the area, if a larger structure does come in, for participation in the process,” LoPiccolo said.

Ozias questioned whether the ordinance should define “rural character” to provide more guidance to developers, plan reviewers and others.

Planning Manager Steve Gray said architectural requirements in the ordinance, including a minimum 25-percent roofline shift and maximum 36-foot height, would address rural character.

Meanwhile, the applicant for the 32,000-square-foot B&B east of Sequim Bay, Judy Lee of Los Angeles, and her attorneys have filed a lawsuit in Kitsap County Superior Court challenging a December ruling by the county Building Code Board of Appeals.

The appeals board upheld Building Official Annette Warren’s determination that the proposed structure is a Group R-1 boarding house and should be designed and built to commercial standards under the International Building Code.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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