Northampton County could soon have a new program designed to help owners of abandoned and dilapidated buildings with their taxes, should the owner decide to tear it down.
At Tuesday night’s work session meeting, County Administrator Charles Kolakowski brought up the program as an idea that the Board of Supervisors should consider. Under the program, the County would determine which houses would qualify. If a house qualifies, a notice would be put on the house, and, if the owner tears it down, the costs of demolition would be abated against the tax bill. The proposal was approved and sent to a public hearing for constituent feedback.
Also discussed during the County Administrator’s report was Airbnbs. Residential home owners renting out a room or their entire house for short periods of time has risen drastically in recent years. The General Assembly has passed legislation that has allowed localities to regulate Airbnbs as they see fit. While Airbnbs within towns, such as Cape Charles, are regulated by the town itself, those outside of towns are currently operating unregulated.
There is no allowance at all for short term rentals of any type in the Northampton County Zoning Ordinance. The Board and County Administrator all agreed it was important to have a handle on the operation of Airb&bs, but they did not want the regulations so heavy handed that it would be discouraged. For many, doing so is an economic life line.
Two options were presented to the Board for consideration. One would allow home owners to use their home as an AirB&B throughout Northampton County by right with certain minimal performance standards, which is currently happening by default. Option two would allow them to be dealt with as a B&B with certain restrictions and allowed by right in certain area. They would be allowed with a minor SUP in some areas and not allowed at all in the rest. The Board decided to send these two options to the Planning Commission for study and recommendation.
According to Commissioner of Revenue Charlene Dix, currently about 350 AirB&Bs are registered in Northampton County and pay taxes accordingly.