The Jessamine County-City of Wilmore Joint Planning Commission recommended approval for ordinance revisions that permit “visitor-accommodation” facilities in R-3 (high-density) residential zones at its meeting Tuesday night.
George Ezell of Wilmore told the commission he had received notice that his operation of the Pleasantview House was in violation of zoning ordinances. He and his wife have rented out the three-bedroom house on Pleasantview Street for the past year, with most guests staying an average of two or three nights while visiting Wilmore.
Ezell said he had initially planned to stop operating his business when he received the violation notice but that neighbors and the community encouraged him to find a way to continue, so he met with planning officials to explore the options.
The amendments the commission considered were to add a “visitor-accommodation facility” definition to the Wilmore zoning ordinance along with adding those facilities to conditional uses allowed in R-3 zones.
The facilities are defined as a single-family dwelling to lodge guests paying a fee for less than 30 days, and they must be rented in their entirety.
Ezell told the commission his operation had brought 180 people to Wilmore last year, about half of whom had not visited the city before. He said he had not received any complaints — only compliments — from neighbors.
Several commission members expressed concern about revising an ordinance with a specific circumstance in mind and worried that they would be setting a precedent for something that could become a problem.
But commissioner Dave Carlstedt, who works as Wilmore’s utilities director, said that no zoning decision could “open a Pandora’s box” in the city.
“This is not an epidemic; we have not kept a lid on a huge problem in the city of Wilmore by not having visitor accommodations,” he said. “... I’m certainly going to support this because I think it’s good for Wilmore. I don’t think there’s precedent here that we should be alarmed about.”
Dal Harper with the Bluegrass Area Development District said the amendments were drafted specifically for the R-3 zones, with the possibility of expanding the scope if the city finds the policy successful.
Carlstedt said he thought high-density zones near downtown were the most ideal places for guest houses.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the changes. The amendments will go to the Wilmore City Council for consideration.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the planning commission approved an 18-month extension and bond reduction for The Oaks at Cave Spring subdivision.