The idea of using Signal Mountain's Space House as a vacation rental may be taking flight.
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency recommended Tuesday morning that the house in Chattanooga on Signal Mountain Road be given a special exceptions permit to allow for overnight vacation rentals.
The recommendation, given to the Regional Planning Commission, is a denial of a request to rezone the home as multi-family residential, said Barry Bennett, planning agency executive director.
By granting a special exceptions permit, the city could allow the house to be used as a vacation property without using "spot zoning," Mr. Bennett said.
"There's always reluctance to spot-zone property, even if the proposed use is appropriate," he said.
The owner of the home, James Faris, bought it in December 2008 and planned to use it as a vacation rental property. He started to rent it out on a per-night basis, but he said he was notified several weeks ago that the R-1 single-family residential zoning of the house didn't allow for overnight rentals.
Mr. Faris is asking the home be designated as R-3 multi-family residential so he can continue to rent it on a nightly basis.
Special exceptions permits have been granted in the past to duplexes in areas zoned as single-family, Mr. Bennett said. Granting the permit would make it harder for other properties nearby to rezone, while still allowing Mr. Faris to use the home for overnight rentals, he said.
"As far as the use and their rights, there's really no difference between that and getting the zoning change," Mr. Bennett said. "We think it's a little better way to handle the situation."
Mr. Bennett said traffic, noise and parking might be vacation property concerns for local residents, but the special exceptions permit would keep those concerns under control because it only allows for one family to occupy the residence at a time.
"It wouldn't be like going to Myrtle Beach and renting a four-bedroom house right on the shore," Mr. Bennett said. "It would be limited to one family under that definition."
Aug. 10 -- The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council after reviewing the Regional Planning Agency recommendation.
Sept. 8 -- The City Council will make its decision on rezoning of the space house.
ON THE WEB
To see photos and rental rates of Signal Mountain's space house, visit http://www.vrbo.com/241542#photos
Honna Rogers, Signal Mountain town manager, said most mountain residents shouldn't be worried about the proposed use of the house. Because it is about a mile outside of the town's city limits, she didn't think it would pose much of a nuisance to residents, she said.
"There are already people going in and out doing construction," Ms. Rogers said. "I don't see how someone renting it out on a short-term basis, I don't see how that would increase the traffic so much that it would impede us going by it."
Mr. Faris said he would try to keep the nightly rate competitive with hotels in downtown Chattanooga. Until the zoning is determined, Mr. Faris said, he will continue to offer the home for monthly rentals, which are advertised online at $2,100 each month. If he isn't allowed to rent overnight, he said, he plans to use the home as a full-time rental property.