With the popularity of Lake Anna exploding during Covid years and full time residency up 30+ percent in 18 months, the lake community is experiencing predictable growing pains, most recently evidenced by an ongoing debate on short term rental regulations or a lack thereof.
After residents of several Lake Anna subdivisions asked for Louisa County supervisors to look into better regulation of short-term rentals at Lake Anna due to over-crowding of the homes, excessive noise complaints, littering, parking problems and common area access issues, Supervisor Duane Adams (Chairman) acted swiftly.
“I heard some legitimate complaints from homeowners about rental homes in their communities packed with more people than the bedroom/septic field permitted and that caught my attention. Any other issues like renters using common areas or parking on community streets, littering or creating a noise disturbance is an issue for the property owners’ associations of these communities to address or for our Sheriff’s Department,” the Mineral District supervisor told Lake Anna Life & Times.
Adams and the Louisa County Board of Supervisors did move to create a working group to address any need to regulate short term rentals. The group consisted of Supervisor Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District), Dave Moberly of Dockside Realty and the Lake Anna Business Partnership, Tracy Hale Clark of the Louisa Chamber of Commerce and Adams.
On May 3 staff of Louisa County Community Development referred the proposed draft code amendments to Chapter 86 Land Development Regulations to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.
There was a Planning Commission public hearing on May 12 at 7 pm in the Louisa County Administrative Building on the proposed regulation amendments and concerned citizens on either side of the issue expressed their views on the list of regulations for consideration.
A number of residents and home owners spoke, including those that rent their lake homes to visitors.
“My clients have called and asked me how these regulations will affect my business. To put it bluntly, they will bankrupt me. Most likely I will have to shutter my business. I will certainly have to lay off employees,” Marie Snyder, owner of a linen service that supplies rental homes at the lake told the Planning Commission and those present at the May 12 hearing.
Jim Kogel, a long time resident of Windwood Coves told the Planning Commission the issues arise from a lack of responsibilty.
“I can guarantee you the sky is not falling. I support the short term rental guidelines. Things have changed with short term rentals. There’s a new avenue of rental. Now there’s a third party off in the internet somewhere managing the property and it causes a lot of problems. The owner of the property takes no responsibilty because they aren’t here.”
At the meeting the Planning Commission voted to table the discussion on the proposed STR regulations until the June meeting and appointed a committee to discuss the regulations further with Supervisors Adams and Gentry.
The current list of proposed regulations that would affect short terms rentals in Louisa County and Lake Anna include: annual registration with a $50 fee; submittal requirements required from the applicant (a property management plan; copy of a general liability policy; proof of septic system operation and maintenance; homeowner or property owner approval, if applicable); occupancy limited based on number of bedrooms; safety equipment provided on-site; parking in allotted driveways or designated parking spaces on-site; prohibiting event rentals; maintain a rental list for two years; penalties for violations; upon multiple violations prohibition from rental of unit subject to violation.
No action has been taken, however, Adams believes there will be regulations ready for considering at the July Louisa County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Lake District Spotsylvania Supervisors Kevin Marshall told Life & Times they are watching the Louisa process and have also heard from citizens on both sides of the short term rental issue.
“I have received communication from constituents concerned about short term rentals at the lake, and I have asked our County staff to look into options to address them,“ Marshall told Life & Times.
Greg Baker, president of the Lake Anna Civic Association has been a strong proponent of regulations that ensure rental homes adhere to drainfield limitations.
“LACA is absolutely not opposed to STRs. Lake Anna is a magnificent gem in the state and we cannot expect to keep her to ourselves. However, the science is clear that septic systems do not function properly and are more likely to fail if they are over capacity. An over capacity septic system is more likely to release the excess nutrients that cause HABs. It is irresponsible to rent over capacity and put the lake at risk. We strongly support the ordinance that is being proposed in Louisa County. This common sense ordinance does not prevent STRs at the lake but requires that the operators rent responsibly,” the resident of Kelly’s Landing told Lake Anna Life & Times.
At its May meeting the Lake Anna Advisory Committee discussed short term rental regulations briefly. Both Marshall and Adams serve as supervisor representatives. Chairman C.C. McCotter asked if the group felt like any action was necessary and the committee agreed that until the final regulations were proposed, LAAC need not offer any recommendation.
The LCBS could vote on the proposed regulations at its July 5 meeting.