District 5 Council Member Sean Parker, who sponsored the ordinance, said the new zoning district, when applied to properties, will eliminate concerns surrounding whether or not properties will be used for short-term rentals.
“What we get is a lot of pushback from neighbors who might be okay with a coffee shop and they might be okay with a deli with some apartments over it, but they simply don’t want a short-term rental hotel in their backyard,” Parker said.
While short-term rental operators voiced opposition to the ordinance at the Feb. 4 meeting, arguing that the new zoning option could infringe on property rights, Parker said he introduced the new zoning option as a way to streamline the process for multifamily housing projects.
The ordinance does not change the zoning currently in place for existing short-term rental properties or planned projects, he said. According to a representative with the Metro Nashville Planning Department, properties in Davidson County can only be re-zoned through an application process by a property owner, a council member or the planning department.
“Any short-term rental that’s already in operation, any construction project that’s already approved and happening, this would not affect their zoning,” Parker said. “In fact, on passage, this zoning designation will be effective nowhere.”
District 17 Council Member Colby Sledge, who co-sponsored the ordinance with three other council members, said projects are routinely denied over community concerns that the properties will be used for short-term rentals. Sledge and other council members said they believe the new zoning district will lead to the approval of more multifamily residences.
“Whether willingly or unwillingly, there has been an environment created in which it has become more difficult to have a conversation with constituents about increasing density, especially in the urban core, because the concern [about short-term rentals] comes up,” Sledge said.
Sledge is sponsoring a separate bill related to short-term rentals, which would require a public hearing and a waiver from Metro Council before non-owner occupied short-term rentals could operate within 100 feet of churches, daycares, schools and parks. The ordinance is up for second reading at the March 5 meeting.