Fort Pierre is going back to the drawing board with its vacation rental ordinance, which may see changes in response to public feedback and contentious debate. Public Works Director Rick Hahn told the Capital Journal on Wednesday that residential zones could be dropped as potential platforms for vacation rentals.
Hahn said a declaration of incompatible use will also be added to explicitly state that vacation rentals are not allowed in residential zones.
“It appeared to be most of the complaints were in residential-zoned areas and from residents,” Hahn said.
Hahn previously said the city sees an opportunity for vacation rentals especially in the cases of homes that were grandfathered into Fort Pierre’s commercial zoning areas.
“They’re not on the river like a lot of people like to be, or not on a boat ramp like a lot of people want to be when they come in to visit, but that would at least give the people the alternative for those large groups or for those that don’t like hotels,” Hahn said.
The Fort Pierre City Council voted unanimously to defer a vote on Ordinances 1050 and 1051 at Monday’s meeting, at which public hearings stretching well over an hour were held to get further feedback.
Resident concern over the percentage of adjacent properties that must approve a property’s use as a vacation rental should go away with the planned revisions, Hahn said.
“We’re going to pull it out of residential, it makes sense,” Hahn said. “It’s a commercial industry. If they don’t fly very well in commercial, it might be just the latest fad that passes through town and we’re back to normal.”
Fort Pierre Mayor Gloria Hanson told the Capital Journal she isn’t yet sure whether the complete exemption of residential zones from the ordinance is the right move.
“After the meeting, after we heard from all of the residents with their concerns about Vrbo(s) in the residential neighborhoods, we talked about saying the ordinance will read that Vrbos are not allowed in residential-zoned districts,” Hanson said. “But maybe that’s carrying it a little too far, because we know there are some well-managed Vrbos in residential neighborhoods that operate very well and we have no complaints. So we’re still talking about it. We’ll talk about it with Planning and Zoning and we’ll probably take something back to the council.”
Hanson added that she hopes having more concrete information in the ordinance will put Fort Pierre residents at ease.
“What I think the council was looking for, and maybe also some of the residents, was more complete information, more final information, because in some cases we had an idea of what we wanted to have with license fees or fines, but it wasn’t final,” Hanson said. “And maybe we need to finalize some of those details before people will feel comfortable about it. And that’s what we want people to do, is feel comfortable about it.”