Citizens Center

Commissioners held their regular meeting at the James W. Warren Citzens Center Sept. 17.

The issue: Opening a bed and breakfast requires a conditional use permit

According to the Lincoln County Unified Development Ordinance, homeowners can open a bed and breakfast in a single-family residential area by obtaining a conditional use permit (CUP), which is ultimately voted on by commissioners based on evidence. In two separate, recent bed and breakfast cases commissioners and planning board members have quibbled over the matter – many saying allowing two families to stay in one house seems to go against the point of having a single-family designation. They say having two families staying in one house that has separate entrances  – one for the main living area and one for a private bed and breakfast suite – seems more like a duplex, which has two homes under one roof.

Only one bed and breakfast has been approved in the area, though there’s no indication it’s still in use, according to county staff.

But because CUP cases are quasi-judicial, commissioners have to vote to approve or deny them based on findings of fact. Evidence is submitted by those with standing, including the homeowners/individuals making the request and those neighboring the proposed B&B, to either support or oppose the four findings of fact, which are related to public health and safety, zoning conditions and specifications, property value and nature or character of use.

What it means: A couple gave the board information hoping to open one

At their Sept. 10 meeting, commissioners heard from Mark and Lisa Powell, Denver residents hoping to a build a lakefront home with a private bed and breakfast suite built in.

The couple currently resides in Sailview where they have rented out their entire home through Airbnb nearly 200 times in the last few years.

The Powells bought a 0.8-acre lakefront lot on Windward Point Lane – a private road – in 2013 with the idea of building a home on the water once they retire.

The idea, according to the Powells, was to open a bed and breakfast as a way to create income during their retirement.

The Powells said they intended to continue using sites like Airbnb to offer Lincoln County residents, relatives of locals or tourists a lakefront place to stay.

The couple gave a presentation and offered commissioners a large packet of information that outlined their intent, process for selecting guests, housing plans and more. The couple had planned to build a two-bedroom suite with a large common area – similar to a hotel suite – with a living room and kitchenette. They planned to hire two employees and cap the number of guests at six.

At least one Windward Point Lane neighbor expressed concerns about the potential traffic and safety impact at the Sept. 10 meeting.

What happened: The Powells will not be able to build a bed and breakfast

The planning board took a vote Sept. 10 and ultimately recommended commissioners vote for the CUP request.

At the commissioners Sept. 17 meeting, Commissioner Martin Oakes requested to vote on each of the four findings of fact, rather than approving or denying all four.  

The first finding, related to safety, was unanimously denied by commissioners because, Oakes said, after reviewing the previously submitted packet of information, the background check system wasn’t sound enough to guarantee safety. The main issue, he said, was that in the Powell’s policy, they said only the person booking the stay would need to complete and pass a background check through Airbnb – the other guests on that same reservation would not be required to pass a check. The last finding of fact was also denied because commissioners saw no evidence suggesting it would be in harmony with existing uses in the nearby area.

Commissioners approved the other two findings of fact, which stated the project would be in environmental compliance and it wouldn’t harm property value nearby.

Overall, commissioners denied the project based on lack of evidence to support two of the four findings of fact – the project would not have been safe for the area or in harmony with the area based on the evidence that was submitted, according to commissioners.

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