Bedford County considers short term rental fees

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) In Bedford County leaders are discussing the possibility of levying fees and regulating short term rentals. This would include properties rented through sites like Air BNB.

While they are in the early stages of this discussion, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors met earlier this week to discuss the proposed fees and sources say the majority of people in the room did not oppose the extra regulations.

Cindy Tenney and her husband are new to Air BNB. Their kids have moved out, and they wanted to share their Bedford County views with others.

"People that come are obviously from outside the area and they are just amazed by the beauty of the mountains and just...just the landscape,” said Tenney, a resident of Forest.

The Tenney's home is one of many in Bedford County on Air BNB, but soon that could change. Officials in the County are discussing taxing short term rentals in the area. It would include a seven percent sales tax as well as other regulations.

Supervisor John Sharp, who represents portions of the Forest area in supervisor district 4, raises concerns over how the proposed fees would impact tourism.

"We've got very few places to stay in Bedford County as it is. Why in the world do we want to discourage something like this?" said Sharp.

The Tenney's say if taxes and regulations were added, they would probably opt out.

"I think we probably would not continue to do it if that were to happen just because it would create a lot of logistical problems that we just don't want to deal with,” said Tenney.

With the consensus being to move the idea forward, officials want the stakeholders and the general public to be aware.

"I want people to be aware of it. And I want people to chime in,” said Sharp.

It’s important to note that whatever was said in a closed work session is not binding, however county leaders are moving forward to next steps. These steps included a public hearing in front of the planning commission as well as a public hearing in front of supervisors sometime in the next two to three months.