Mount Airy officials are considering amending the city’s zoning ordinance regulating rooming houses – for which action was slated for Thursday night – in the wake of Church Street residents complaining of an operating temporary accommodation facility in their neighborhood.
This happened earlier this fall in response to activities surrounding a boarding house at 204 W. Church St., sparking concern among neighbors, who were prompted to raise the issue at a public forum of a meeting of the advice.
“There has been a lot of activity with the police,” said forum speaker Elizabeth McDowell, who identified herself as a former military flight nurse living across from the rooming house involved.
“We’re all very unhappy about this,” said fellow West Church Street resident Daphne Ayers, who said the problems were caused by the short-term presence of occupants renting rooms by the month.
What started out as a three bedroom, one bathroom house that was bought by a young local resident exploded from there with more bedroom and bathroom space, according to Ayers. The maximum number of people staying there at any given time was not known.
“We have the impression that these are passing people coming and going,” Ayers added, referring to vehicles parked there which another speaker said had license plates from all over the United States, including states like Texas and Arizona. “We had the police there several times. “
McDowell said her two teenage daughters were uncomfortable getting in the car to school every day due to safety concerns over the rooming house which she called a “public nuisance.” »During the forum.
“So we need this security issue to be involved.”
Tim Ayers, another forum speaker, pointed out that as a neighborhood located in an R-6 (General Residential) zone, it is mostly made up of single family homes although apartments are located there.
But the presence of the rooming house had greatly disturbed his character, he said.
Tim Ayers told city officials that 15 families formally opposed the use in question.
“We don’t want a rooming house in our neighborhood,” he said.
“We would like to change the ordinance so that this does not happen,” said Daphne Ayers, who the forum comments said should include not only a citywide ban on such establishments in the future, but also the prohibition of the existing one.
McDowell referred to language in the Mount Airy Code of Ordinances which states that the intent of these regulations is to promote public health, safety, morals, and the general well-being of citizens.
City government response
Mount Airy’s Planning Director Andy Goodall responded to residents’ concerns by pointing out that no municipal permits have been issued for the rooming house as the owner of the property decided to abandon that use.
Strict building codes were cited as the reason, according to the planning director.
But Goodall said the Mount Airy Planning Board – an advisory group to commissioners – will discuss and consider changes to how rooming houses and boarding houses, which are permitted uses in the municipality, are managed.
This has now happened with the development of the proposed changes to the ordinances, which will require a public hearing before the changes can be approved and put into effect. The commissioners were expected at a meeting Thursday evening to schedule the hearing for another council meeting on January 20 at 6 p.m.
One of the proposed changes to the Mount Airy Residential Use Guidelines would be to remove the term boarding house / rooming house and replace it with rooming house only, separated into transitional and non-transient facilities.
The transitional rooming house is defined as any single residential unit containing no more than five spare bedrooms and limited to the number of people where rent is paid, with the transitional specified as less than 30 days.
Such a facility would have to meet minimum city housing and state building codes before an operating certificate is issued.
The proposed changes also provide for a home to be supervised by a resident manager.
A parking space would be required for each guest room and one for the manager, located on the side or at the back of the structure.
Wording that allowed boarding houses / rooming houses in zoning districts R-20 (single-family residential), R-6 (general residential) and R-4 (office-residential) has been removed for the purposes of the amendment package. .
Transitional installations would only be allowed in R-4 zones with a special use permit, based on municipal government documents, with more latitude proposed for the non-transient variety.
Tom Joyce can be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.