Hurricane approves vacation rentals, supports curbside recycling

Hurricane City Council, Hurricane, Utah, Jan. 16, 2014 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

HURRICANE – The main item on the Hurricane City Council meeting agenda Thursday night was a discussion about amending a city ordinance to allow vacation rental properties.

Councilman Darin Larson, Branch Manager of Hurricane’s Southern Utah State Bank, was a key contributor to the conversation, saying vacation rentals should not be a big concern because they are usually better maintained than regular long-term rentals.

“Ninety-nine percent of them will be fine and you don’t even know they’re there,” he said.

Greg McDermott, a resident in attendance, agreed with Larson, saying he used to own a vacation rental company, which charged an average of $200 per night for its rentals.

You don’t get riffraff paying that amount,” McDermott said. “If the property is not maintained, people will not go to it.”

Many vacation renters want to rent a property that is a “cut above” their own home, he said. Planning Director Toni Foran said she knows of residents who are waiting on a City Council decision on vacation rentals, before closing on houses they want to purchase.

Originally, the Planning and Zoning Commission was thinking of limiting the vacation rentals to 50-100 licenses, but then decided to let the market dictate how many there should be, Larson explained. Vacation rentals are a trend happening all over the world, he said, and to attract more visitors to the city, Hurricane should have alternative accommodation options including vacation house rentals.

The Council unanimously approved the amendment to the ordinance to allow vacation rentals within the city.

Also on the agenda was a discussion of the city’s support of the proposed county-wide curbside recycling program. The Council universally supported recycling, but the question was how to best go about it – make it mandatory, or give residents a choice.

“Once they’re in, I think they’ll like it,” City Manager Clark Fawcett said. “It’s a feel-good thing.”

“I’m all for people choosing,” Mayor John Bramall said, explaining that he feels the program would extend the life of the landfill and reduce pollution.

Other business

The first agenda item was a presentation by Ron Ertman, a resident of the Painted Hills subdivision concerned about a home in disrepair in that neighborhood at 59 S. Valley View Drive. The home gives the subdivision a bad reputation, he said, with four-foot tall weeds and garbage in the backyard, among other problems.

City Attorney Fay Reber advised Ertman that he has the right to file a civil action against the owner. Bramall said the city would organize a group of volunteers to clean up the property.

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