HARRISONBURG — City Council will hold a public hearing and consider approving a special-use permit requested by the Northeast Neighborhood Association for a community building as well as eight special-use permits for short-term rentals.
The Northeast Neighborhood Association is requesting a special-use permit to have a community building at 481, 491 and 505 Broad St. The property is located at the intersection of Broad Street and Effinger Street and is zoned a Residential District.
NENA is a nonprofit organization, which serves in the Northeast Neighborhood “to work to make our neighborhood a secure, attractive and strong community,” according to its website.
The building was previously owned by Broad Street Mennonite Church, which donated the property to NENA in October 2018.
According to city documents, NENA plans to continue using the building for worship services but would also like to create a Community Center where community and city residents can come for special gatherings, recreational, educational and cultural activities.
Future building plans include acquiring a music room, art room, meeting spaces and special occasion spaces for weddings, church concerts and special programs, documents said.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan designated the site as Mixed Use, which combines residential and non-residential use in neighborhoods.
Before NENA can use the building as a community center, off-street parking requirements must be reviewed by the city’s Zoning staff before being issued a new certificate of occupancy.
Staff requested approval with the conditions that if Planning Commission or council sees an issue with parking or noise among other things, they can request to reevaluate the permit and add conditions or revoke the permit.
The second condition will be that any community building be used for purposes that align with NENA’s current proposed usage, such as for meeting and community gatherings, according to Harrisonburg Director of Communications Michael Parks.
“That way, if the building were to be sold, for example, it couldn’t be used for other uses such as a loud concert that sometimes are hosted at community buildings,” Parks said.
Planning Commission also unanimously requested approval with a 6-0 vote with the suggested conditions made by staff.
Council will see a third request to have a short-term rental on Summit Avenue.
The board approved its first request to have a special-use permit on 981 Summit Ave. at its June 11 meeting.
The second approval was at council’s July 9 meeting for 957 Summit Ave.
Tuesday the board will see a request for a short-term rental on 990 Summit Ave. Staff recommended approval along with Planning Commission, who voted in approval with a 4-2 vote.
Voting in favor was Gil Colman, Brent Finnegan, Mark Finks and Zanetta Ford-Byrd. Voting against was Kathy Whitten and Henry Way.
With a special-use permit, properties offered online through Airbnb.com and similar sites will be classified along with bed-and-breakfasts as short-term rentals and required to have a special-use permit to operate in residential areas.
Since council approved the special-use permit regulations in March, a grace period began where short-term rental users without a permit have not been penalized. The grace period ended Aug. 1 and penalties will ensue if found operating illegally in the city.
Individuals found illegally operating a short-term rental without a permit will receive a violation notice with a $100 fine for the first offense and a $500 penalty for any subsequent offense. Violators who rack up $5,000 in penalties could be charged with a misdemeanor.
During the regular agenda, council will consider a request from Greendale LLC to subdivide a 5.28-acre parcel into nine single-family home parcels and one common area parcel, and to preliminarily dedicate public street right-of-way for a street that will serve the residential development at 1205 Greendale Road.
The city’s Comprehensive Plan has designated the site as Low Density Mixed Residential.
Some parcels are located in the city, while others are part of Rockingham County.
Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 409 S. Main St.