Patsy Dawson, who lives on Oak Walk Lane, wants the board to remove and prevent this kind of commercialization in a residential area.
“We live in Oak Forest, a nice neighborhood, and we don’t need that in our neighborhood,” she said. The home that she described as a B&B is on Briar Trail Cove just behind her property.
She said the property is advertised on Airbnb (a website where people can find short-term lodging). Dawson estimated there are five to seven cars at that property from Thursday through Sunday every week, with two to five people per car. She said lodging at that property is about $250 per night.
She told board members, “I understand you’re working on a state level, but if it was on your street and next door to you, I’m sure you wouldn’t want that.”
She compared the bed-and-breakfast to a hotel being next door. “And they come and go all the time. You never know who’s going to rent it, what caliber of people’s gonna be there. It’s pet friendly, kid friendly, horn honking — you know. It just doesn’t need to be in our neighborhood.”
Dawson concluded, “And I don’t know what else to do. I’m just sick about it.”
The board typically does not comment immediately on citizen’s concerns that arise at meetings. But Mayor Keith McDonald reminded Dawson she can file noise complaints as needed while the city pursues a longer-term solution.
On Tuesday, McDonald said he understands citizens’ concerns, and the city is gathering information before taking action. He said it’s a countrywide issue of private citizens renting out properties via Airbnb and similar services, or even people performing taxi duties with their personal cars via Uber and Lyft.
State and city laws have not yet caught up with whether these actions should or should not be treated like commercial ventures, with the accompanying taxes and health, safety and welfare oversight.
Questions abound for private short-term property rentals: Should the operators pay bed taxes like a hotel? Should they be required to have inspections and pay fees for them? And, as in the Bartlett case, can someone subletting a property rent it out?
Collierville and Germantown currently have ordinances that forbid B&Bs in residential zones. McDonald said he doubts that stance will withstand a legal challenge, so Bartlett is looking to other communities to learn from their solutions. Tennessee is exploring legislation and negotiations with Airbnb as well.
Information about the bed-and-breakfast’s owner and the person subletting the Bartlett property was not yet available at press time.
Regular board business
More improvements at W.J. Freeman Park got the green light from McDonald and the board of aldermen at the same meeting.
The city accepted the lowest total base bid for from Enscor LLC for Phase 2 of the park’s improvements. The total bid of $1,217,151 includes the base bid of $957,151, an additional $110,000 for the parking lot lighting and a contingency amount of $150,000. Half of that amount will be funded through the local Park and Recreation Department’s fund.
In an earlier September interview, Parks and Recreation Director Shan Criswell said Phase 2 will add two multipurpose fields near the existing cricket field (the only one in Shelby County) and also add a large parking area connected to Veterans Park. She hopes to wrap up all phases of the park’s improvements within the next seven to eight years, depending on funding.
A large chunk of the overall Freeman Park upgrade and expansion will be funded by a $1 million budget that arose from a $500,000 Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) grant from the State of Tennessee. The city will be paying $500,000 because it is a matching grant.
Fire Chief Terry Wiggins also addressed the board to thank all who participated in his department’s annual pancake breakfast, which served more than 2,000 people on Oct. 14. Funds raised are used for local charitable purposes.
In other business, the board approved:
- The lowest bid for a side-loader refuse truck. The bid went to Worldwide Equipment for $129,151.
- A well pump replacement at Water Treatment Plant #3. National Water Service will rebuild and replace Well Pump #2 at the Ardie Road Plant for a total cost of $40,304.
- An amended special use permit to add an independent living facility with a memory care unit to the recently approved assisted living facility that will be located north of U.S. 64 on the northeast corner of New Brunswick and Brunswick Roads. No one spoke up for or against the additional permit in the public meeting before the vote.
- A permit for the One Less Orphan 5K Fundraiser to be held 8-10 a.m. Nov. 11 at Faith Baptist Church
- A permit for the Ellendale Baptist Church fall festival that was held Oct. 31 at Ellendale Baptist Church
- The treasurer’s report for September
CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.