HAGERSTOWN, MD (July 14, 2021) – The Washington County Board of County Commissioners
voted 4-0 to approve a text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance for Washington County, Maryland (RZ-20-002)
for short-term residential rentals. This amendment defines a Short-term Residential Rental as “a non-owner-occupied residential structure that provides temporary lodging to transient guests for compensation. Proprietors may rent all or a portion of the structure. Such uses shall not exceed rental of individual rooms or the entire structure for more than 30 consecutive days per client/reservation. No site plan is required, however, off-street parking must be provided in accordance with Article 22 Division 1 of this Ordinance. Signage that requires a zoning permit is prohibited.”
Residential rental facilities are not a new trend in land use and are commonly booked through travel sites such as Airbnb
. These types of uses have been motivated over time by tourists and visitors who wish to have more unique accommodations than those provided by a typical hotel complex.
The main difference between traditional residential rental facilities of the past versus the more modern trends of today is the lack of occupancy of the property owner. Many of the rental opportunities presented to visitors are single-family dwellings that are smaller in size than typical owner-occupied uses and are strategically placed to take advantage of scenic views, proximity to tourist destinations, and rural locations that offer tranquil settings.
Because proximity can cause compatibility issues in the urbanized areas, staff has recommended allowing short-term residential rentals in all residential districts by special exception use only. This would provide neighbors with notice of a proposed new use in the area and offer an opportunity to comment on concerns unique to each application. Because proximity is less of an issue in rural areas of the County, staff has proposed to allow them as principally permitted uses. To avoid other compatibility conflicts with neighboring properties, staff has recommended that minimum parking standards should be implemented and that rental stays should not exceed thirty (30) days in length.
This item was presented to the Washington County Planning Commission at a Public Information Meeting held during their regular meeting on April 5, 2021. It was then brought back for recommendation at the May 3, 2021, meeting where the members unanimously recommended approval of the proposed text amendments with comments. The Board of County Commissioners voted 4-0 on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, to approve the text amendments.