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The Planning Commission recommended denial of a special use permit for a Greene County couple currently operating a bed and breakfast within a residential subdivision.

The board on Wednesday, Aug. 20, voted 4 1 for the denial, with Commissioner John McCloskey dissenting. on Sept. 23 in the County Administration Building on Celt Road.

David and Kumud Vanderveer, who have operating a bed and breakfast on their property for more than a year, were called in front of the board after a zoning complaint was made in May. The 21 acre property on Mulberry Drive is inside the Riverdale subdivision.

Bart Svoboda, Greene County zoning administrator, said his staff recommended denying the request since the use changes the character of established subdivision pattern of the Riverdale community.

“The applicant may be operating with minimal disturbance, but the special use permit goes with the land, not the applicant,” Svoboda said. “When you have to add so many conditions to an application, then the determination by staff is that there are too many things to mitigate so the use is inappropriate.”

Svoboda said there hasn’t been many formal complains about the Vanderveer’s business, but county staff investigated after the complaint was filed earlier this year.

Staff sent out a violation for operating a business without an appropriate permit and the Vanderveer’s appealed the violation. The appeal hearing has yet to take place.

Svoboda also noted the Vanderveer’s have been paying their occupancy taxes, however, they would need a special use permit to continue operating their property as a commercial use which would also require a site plan.

David Vanderveer last week addressed some of staff’s issues with the special use permit, including the amount of traffic the bed and breakfast is causing. Vanderveer advertises his rentals, which run for at least $100 a night, on various travel and tourism websites.

Vanderveer argued fully renting out his units as single family homes would cause more traffic than operating a bed and breakfast.

“We have both full time and part time rents, 13 units in all,
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” Vanderveer said, noting that if he fully rented out all 13 units with up to two people per unit and two vehicles per unit equals 26 vehicles.

“However, average occupancy for a bed and breakfast is 35 percent,” he said, adding that in many cases travelers only bring one vehicle and transient renting would end up account for approximately one sixth as much traffic as if he were to rent out the homes as single family, full time residences.

Vanderveer described him and his wife’s business as an eco spa retreat which includes two massage rooms, a sauna, meditation room and plenty of outdoor space and gazebos to relax, rest and retreat. The couple does have a valid business license to run the business in the county, he said.

“It is an eco tourist destination,” he said. Hanes.

“We haven’t received any complaints about we are doing with our place,” Vanderveer said. “We encourage our friends and neighbors to walk on the grounds and walk their dogs and have received 350 reviews from our guests and have yet to receive a negative one. We also have approximately 80 letters of approval and one letter of disapproval.”

A total of 22 residents, both Greene County and the Riverdale subdivision residents in particular, spoke at the public hearing 12 in support of the business and nine in disapproval.

David Holtzman of the Piedmont Environment Council offered observations from both sides and remaining relatively neutral.

Riverdale resident Kathryn Doerr spoke highly of her neighbors and praised their efforts.

“They have made a drastic improvement to the area I’m surprised to hear all of this negativity,” Kathryn Doerr said, noting in response to traffic and road concerns that most of the people in Riverdale don’t want to pay the dues anyway.

In previous statements, Vanderveer offered to donate additional dues toward Riverdale roads since his guests would be sharing them something many of the residents were not fond of.

Riverdale resident Rosa Roach expressed concerns about the safety of her children and grandchildren with out of state guests either zooming up and down the roads and unsafe speeds or slowing creeping along looking at residences to find the Vanderveer’s retreat.

McCloskey suggested that the board allow the Vanderveers a three year special use permit to see how the operation ran and eliminating the fear of not as consciences future owners. Other Planning Commission members expressed concerns about the plan.

“To let this go for three years and then try to shut it down would be difficult,” Svoboda added.

McCloskey moved for a deferral until more information could be gathered, but his motion failed due to lack of a second. Planning Commission member Frank Morris moved to recommend denial to the Board of Supervisors because “the business doesn’t fit the county’s needs.”
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