Loudoun County's more than 30 bed and breakfast lodges will soon be under new regulations, this following an attempt by county government to encourage economic development in the rural west.
After months of examination from county staff and feedback from the Loudoun Bed and Breakfast Guild, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved amendments to the county zoning ordinance May 21. Key terms of the new regulations include more-clearly defined bed and breakfasts – including distinguishing a bed and breakfast inn, a bed and breakfast homestay, a country inn and a banquet and event facility; increasing the number of events the inns can host; eliminating a prohibition on events in consecutive days; and imposing time limitations on live music and events.
Local stakeholders who studied the county's zoning ordinance in 2012 identified more than 250 issues they “felt hindered business activity and/or impeded economic development” as it related to bed and breakfasts, according to county documents.
While residents within the bed and breakfast industry have been supportive of the new measures, some members of the community were fearful the new standards will be a detriment to the neighbors of inns and to the rural environment as a whole.
A Piedmont Environmental Council representative told supervisors during a May public hearing the less-stringent regulations will open a floodgate of problems for residents nearby the bed and breakfasts.
“A loosening of these regulations may begin to result in unforeseen conflicts, which, upon adoption of these revisions, the public and the county will have very limited ability to review and recommend mitigating measures,” the PEC's Ed Gorski said to the board.
To Gorski's point, Loudoun County staff indeed expressed several concerns over the reclassification or addition of minor special exception and permitted uses, the number of events held at the inns and landscaping and yard setbacks.
Supervisors, who repeatedly called the measure a “comprehensive” undertaking, and industry professionals stressed that bed and breakfast managers or party organizers will still have to obtain permits for large-scale events.
Jon Tiggers, who manages Zion Springs Bed and Breakfast in Hamilton, said the new standards are “pro-business” and that they are essential to growing the rural economy.
“You can't make a business case to become a bed and breakfast in this county under its current regulations, in particular the number of events the restrictions around that,” Tiggers said.
Board Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) agreed with Tiggers' sentiment.
“The only way that you can keep the west 'west' is by giving people the opportunity to make money on their property,” York said. “Or else it's just going to simply get sold to people who want to put houses on it.
“Quite frankly, what some of these people may experience as neighbors are not going to be any different than what I experience living in the east in terms of potential noise from events,” York said.
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