While debate over short-term rentals could become a focus of the Texas Legislature this session, Oak Ridge North will refrain from acting on the issue for the time being.
Several City Council members had expressed concern over potential negative effects that short-term rental businesses could bring to Oak Ridge North, such as additional traffic and noise to the area, but decided to hold off on any ordinance changes before state lawmakers address the issue.
“You don’t have anything really to latch onto to give you a reason as to why you need to regulate it,” city attorney Chris Nichols said at the March 11 regular City Council meeting. “The climate we’re in right now, legally, legislatively, it’s just too soon.”
Building official John Beisert also noted city code currently includes regulations for the transient use of property that would make operating an Airbnb or similar business difficult within the city. While Council Member Alex Jones said the area’s ongoing development could end up bringing more of an interest in short-term rentals to Oak Ridge North over the coming years, Nichols said he didn’t believe any action is necessary unless state law also changes.
“Let’s get to the end of the legislative session to see if they do anything with it, and then let’s revisit it,” he said.
The council also examined the Oak Ridge North Planning and Zoning Commission’s review of retail usage within the city’s B-2 zoning district March 11. The review of the business corridor along I-45 stemmed from concerns the area’s permitted and special exception uses may not be generating enough sales tax. While more than half of the businesses in the district are taxable, Director of Economic Development Heather Neeley also said untaxable businesses, such as barbershops and beauty parlors, serve an important community purpose and continue to draw customers to taxable locations in the same zone.
“You can’t get a haircut online,” Neeley said. “I know it doesn’t generate sales tax, but it’s filling a vacancy, and it’s filling a need.”
Following the recommendation of the zoning commission, the council decided not to consider any changes to the zone. The council did move to reappoint four commission members whose positions are set to expire at the end of the month and unanimously approved all four for additional two-year terms on the commission.