A neighbor of the owner of a property featured on HGTV’s "Fixer Upper" show filed a complaint accusing the owner of violating Lacy Lakeview's zoning ordinance and operating the vacation rental without permission.
Kristi Bass who bought the Barndominium property at the beginning of August from the original owners applied for a specific use permit with the city on August 9 to operate the five-bedroom property as a vacation rental for two to five years. The permit still needs to be considered by the council before the property on the 100 block of Spring Creek Road can be rented.
"My heart is to provide a sanctuary for people that could come out here and enjoy quiet country living and enjoy the 'Fixer Upper' experience,” Bass said.
In addition, Bass who wants to make the property her forever home in the future said the income from the rentals would help her cover her expenses.
On Aug. 25 at a city council meeting, 18 people spoke against the vacation rental but no one spoke in favor of the measure.
On Sept. 6, Steven Moore, a Spring Creek road resident and Lacy Lakeview city council member, filed the complaint. The complaint states the property has been occupied and vehicles were parked next to the Barndominium at least during two weekends. He specified he could not attest who occupied the Barndominium at the time.
City Manager Keith Bond said if it is proven Bass is operating without a permit she would be in violation of city regulations.
The city is currently working on a draft ordinance that would be presented on Sept. 13 that would define vacation rentals. However, Bond said the ordinance does not make it automatic to allow vacation rentals in residential areas. A specific use permit would still be required for those wanting to start a vacation rental.
"There is no reason why I can't do the vacation rental currently because I'm not in violation of anything that currently exists and you can't be in violation with the anticipation of violating it,” Bass said.
The property is currently listed on a website called Vacation Rental by Owner for a nightly rate of $1,200. Bass claimed groups have stayed at that location but she did not mention she had been paid for it. The Barndominium has been reserved for several weekends in October and November.
Several neighbors in the area, including Harvey Walker and John Regin who have started two petitions against the vacation rental are opposed to the city granting them that permit.
Regin said they have already seen an increase in traffic on Spring Creek Road after the property was featured on the show.
“Now since the Barndominium came in, the traffic has doubled, there are speeders. There are people pulling into my driveway to park waiting for people to come and then they take them down show them where is at,” Regin said.
He added if the property becomes a vacation rental, there could be more traffic in an already narrow road with a dead end.
"There were eight cars down there this week. We have a grandson who lives with us. He is eight years old. He can't run his bike because of the traffic. It's a narrow road,” Regin said.
Walker agrees with the safety concerns regarding traffic.
“That's the reason we live here. We like the secluded retirement community. We have people who walk in the morning and in the evenings and everyone quit walking. It’s too dangerous,” Walker said.
Furthermore, the neighbors are concerned about taxes increasing and visitors using the lake shared by the homeowners.
Bass who is aware of the neighbors’ concerns regarding traffic said if she had a subdivision in her 16 acres of land, the traffic would be even higher than having two or three cars from guests during the course of a weekend or one weekend every couple of months on private land.
"This people are very well traveled, very educated, homeowners themselves,” Bass said. “They are very honorable of the environment, respectful of the neighbors and the property as a whole.
If she is denied the permit request, Bass said she plans to either sell the property or make it a subdivision.
If the permit is granted, Regin said neighbors will hire an attorney to represent them.
"We are going to fight it. We don't want it. It's too quiet of a neighborhood. Most of them are retired. We don't want it,” Regin said.
The city is in the process of issuing a court summons to the owner of the complaint. The city council will meet on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. to discuss the drafted ordinance.
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