A beacon appears in Beaufort's short-term rental debate

Signs would be a no-no for rentals of fewer than 30 days.

August 24 of last year marked the start of Beaufort City Council's investigation into how short-term rentals could be allowed in non-commercial zones of the city.

Now a year later, a draft ordinance is once again back and appears headed for a first reading at an upcoming council meeting (though it's not on the June 28th agenda).

In essence, the proposal is much the same as has been discussed for months — renting property would require safety inspections, no on-site signage, be licensed, minimum two-night stays. 

Rentals would be prohibited in neighborhoods with covenants barring the activity and in the historic Point neighborhood — one of the more controversial bits of the proposal.

You can read the full proposal below.

Ordinance proposal

City of Beaufort Department of Planning and Development Services


TO: Scott Dadson, City Manager
FROM: Libby Anderson, Planning Director
DATE: May 19, 2011
SUBJECT: UDO Amendment Regarding Short Term Rentals

Staff has prepared an ordinance amendment addressing short term rentals. The attached ordinance permits short term rental of the primary dwelling unit in all residential zoning districts by special exception--except for the The Point neighborhood. Short term rentals are permitted in accessory dwelling units where the owner lives on the premises, as conditional use--except for The Point neighborhood. The ordinance does not permit any type of short term rental in the Traditional Beaufort Residential District The Point. The ordinance permits short term rentals in all commercial districts as a conditional use. Special exceptions are approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals (see attachment). Conditional uses are approved by staff.

The Beaufort--Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission considered this ordinance amendment at their meeting on May 16. The Commission recommended approval. 

Staff is requesting guidance on how to proceed with the ordinance. A public hearing on a short term rental ordinance was held on August 24. First reading was given to that ordinance on September 14. Several major changes have been made to the ordinance since that initial hearing.

If Council desires to continue the revised ordinance through the approval process, staff recommends that a public hearing and first reading be held on the current proposal. 

Please contact me with any questions on the revised short term rental ordinance.

Thank you. 


WHEREAS, short term rental of residential dwellings is currently not permitted in residential zoning districts; and

WHEREAS, short term rental of residential dwellings may be a compatible use in some neighborhoods under certain conditions; and

WHEREAS, permitting a use by the special exception process requires a detailed examination of the proposal, includes a public hearing, and allows conditions to be attached to approval of the use; and

WHEREAS, staff has prepared an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance to allow short term rental of the primary residential dwelling as a use permitted by special exception in certain residential zoning districts, and to allow rental of accessory dwelling units as a conditional use; and

WHEREAS, this amendment has been presented to the Beaufort--Port Royal Metropolitan Planning Commission; and 

WHEREAS, a public hearing before the Beaufort City Council was held regarding this ordinance amendment on August 24, 2010, with notice of the hearing published in The Beaufort Gazette on August 9,2010;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Beaufort, South Carolina, duly assembled and by authority of same, pursuant to the power vested in the Council by Section 6-29-760, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, that The Unified Development Ordinance of the City of Beaufort, South Carolina be amended as follows:

1. Delete the current Use Tables in Section 5.1 "Use Tables," and replace them with new Use Tables to read as shown on the attached sheets.

2. Revise Section 5.3.D "Specific Use Standards, Commercial Uses," by adding a new paragraph 10, "Housing, Short Term Rental," to read as follows, and renumbering the existing paragraphs as appropriate:

10. Housing, Short Term Rental

Short term rentals are permitted in all residential zoning districts with the exception of the Traditional Beaufort Residential District, The Point, or where prohibited by covenants. Short term rental of the primary dwelling, or rental of an accessory dwelling unit on property where the property owner does not live on the premises, shall be by special exception subject to the standards shown below. Short term rental of an accessory dwelling unit where the property owner lives on the premises, and short term rental of any type of residential unit is a commercial district, shall be a conditional use subject to  standards shown below.

a. A minimum 2-night stay is required;

h. Adequate on-site parking is provided. Parking should be located to the side or rear of the dwelling (i.e., the front yard cannot be used for parking). Tenants should use the required on-site parking and not park in the street;

c. A property management plan shall be developed and approved by the appropriate review authority. Failure to comply with the approved property management plan shall result in revocation of zoning approval;

d. No on-site signage shall be permitted;

e. No pets shall be left outside unattended;

f. An annual Safety Inspection shall be conducted before the Business License for the facility will be renewed;

g. The facility shall comply with all business license, revenue collection, and health laws of the City of Beaufort, Beaufort County, and the State of South Carolina; and

h. Approval of the use runs with the ownership of the property.

This ordinance shall become effective immediately upon adoption.