orange beach boat logoBy John Mullen
December 15, 2017 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA) – Amid growing concerns about short-term vacation rentals in neighborhoods the city council put a moratorium on short-term rental business licenses.
 
The moratorium was passed on a 5-0 vote at a specially called council meeting on Dec . 15. It will go into effect on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m.
 
Orange Beach leaders say they will use the moratorium period to draft a new ordinance to further restrict using individual homes for vacation rentals. Some residents have been using vrbo.com and Airbnb to rent out their homes to vacationers.
Full-time residents have been lodging complaints about problems caused by the short-term guests. Some of the neighborhoods include Cotton Bayou Drive, Bear Point, the Marina Road area and Terry Cove.
 
“This something that we’ve been working on for over a year, maybe even longer,” Councilwoman Joni Blalock said. “We’ve had multiple citizens come to our chamber as far back as two or three years ago complaining about short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods. Our planning department has had something written for a while trying to truly vet it completely out so we are doing this in the best possible way.”
 
City Attorney Wanda Cochran and other city staff are working on drafting the new ordinance.
 
“It prohibits the issuance of any new short-term rental licenses for a period of six months so that we can prepare an ordinance that has the proper regulations for super short-term rentals,” Cochran said. “The problems center around noise, trash and indecency. Basically, it’s a transient type of occupancy which over time the concentration of these types of units in neighborhoods change the character of neighborhoods. They wake up one day, their neighborhood’s changed and they had no voice in it.”
 
Mayor Tony Kennon said he wants to limit commercial properties out of Orange Beach neighborhoods.
“My issue is residential means residential,” Kennon said. “If you’re running a short-term business through an LLC, a management company and I want to know how you’re paying your taxes and you’re depreciating your assets then you’re running a business. You don’t have a house.”
 
Anyone with a short-term rental business license before the moratorium was enacted will be grandfathered in unless the home is sold to a new owner.
 
Bringing this issue to a head, Councilman Jeff Boyd said, was a planned unit development proposed by Dan Blackburn to rezone 49 acres in the northwest corner of Canal Road and Sampson Avenue. Blackburn is proposing 58 short-term rental cottages on the property that includes a small lake and waterfront on Wolf Bay.
 
Almost 60 residents signed up to speak against the development at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 11.