By Lindsey Hutson-Suttles

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The LaFollette Regional Planning Commission held a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon to have an open discussion about short term rentals in the city. The meeting was an open forum where citizens were able to speak their piece about the up and coming business of short term rentals. A couple of citizens who run already approved Airbnbs were in attendance.

The planning commission does not make a final decision on the matter but wanted to give the opportunity for anyone involved to share their opinion or fight for their cause.

Planning Commission Member Mark Hoskins stated that they were “trying to accommodate everyone” but also that they had “to look 20 years down the road” with the regulations that would be made.

It was made known that the already existing Airbnbs would not be affected by any regulations that will be set. They would be grandfathered in.

One of the biggest questions mentioned was where would the Airbnbs be allowed. Would they be in commercial zoning only or would they be allowed in residential zones?

A major concern with allowing the rentals into residential areas was excessive noise. As LaFollette is a destination place for ATV riders, many guests at these short term rentals come with trailers packed with four wheelers and ATVs. Will the traffic from these vehicles cause a disruption in neighborhoods?

One Airbnb owner states that residential areas are the only places really suitable for their business. The permits to run a short term rental includes specified parking so that trucks pulling trailers will be accommodated sufficiently. However in areas zoned commercial or even R-2 sometimes do not provide ample acreage for parking. Another owner points out that they “would like to invest in and build the community” but with such regulations it would not be achievable.

Owners also address the issue of noise by stating that Airbnb gives them the right to reject renters if needed. The website also checks credit scores and drivers licenses before you are eligible to rent through them, thus giving the hosts the upper hand.

The city’s attorney, Reid Troutman, was in attendance as well and suggested maybe looking at how cities similar to ours handled this type of business. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/13/2022-6AM)