YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A proposed ordinance change regarding Rock Hill’s short-term rentals has hosts frustrated with the city.

City officials suggest moving short-term rentals from residential districts to commercial zoning districts. Regulations were modified last September — but authorities believe this proposal would create a more simplified review process for future units. 

Long-time short-term rental host Tom Hutto disagrees.

“They want somebody to build a house next to the top company in the world and shop and expect nice families coming to visit to stay there,” Hutto said. He owns RockHillStays.com, about 12 properties in the city. 

Because the uses would no longer be allowed in residential zoning districts, these requirements would be removed: 

      (a) Homeowners Association representatives would not be required to provide written statements saying that the use is allowed or is not regulated by the HOA. Instead, we would use the same process that we use for all other permits, where the applicant is required to check a box stating that no deed restrictions nor restrictive covenants apply to the property that would prohibit the requested activity. 

      (b) Hosts would not be required to obtain written statements from contiguous residential property owners saying that they do not oppose the use.

New regulations also remove the need for city staff to inspect the unit and property grounds for compliance with the property maintenance code prior to issuing the initial permit.

Some homeowners support the move.

“Short-term rentals take homes away from residents. The map that you have shows that very clearly,” says one homeowner supporting the proposal. 

Staff was shown a map with colored areas to show where rentals would be allowed.

But under the new regulations, it would give existing business owners in residential districts 5 years to end their short-term rental hosts.

“But if somebody was an investor and they look back and see what’s happening to us, you know, they changed the law on it six times in six years and now the throne is out of business,” Hutto said. 

Former planning commission chairman Tom Roper and his wife also own a short-term rental business.

He says this move by the city is unheard of.

“I think this is an end run to completely eliminate Airbnb and STRs in Rock Hill,” Roper said. 

After about 10 minutes of discussion, city planning staff denied the recommendation. The city council will discuss the proposed ordinance on November 13.