Vacation rentals in downtown Blue Ridge

Downtown Blue Ridge, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Blue Ridge Council held a special called meeting to discuss the creation of the Downtown Development Authority. During this meeting the discussion of nightly vacation rentals in the downtown area garnered much attention.

The city has proposed a “City of Blue Ridge Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance”.

CJ Stam was present to address the council on behalf of the Blue Ridge Lodging Association. Concerning this ordinance Stam stated, “This is an important issue to us. We’re not opposed to this. We actually appreciate it. We don’t mind having rules set in place.”

The Blue Ridge Lodging Association represents approximately 10 rental companies with over 500 different types of rental properties in our area.
Stam said that concern falls in the application process that the city is requiring, stating that it “seems a little bit cumbersome”.

According to the proposed ordinance, an application for a short term vacation rental certificate shall be submitted along with a non-refundable application fee to the City of Blue Ridge.

Along with proof of homeowners insurance and having staff available 24 hours a day for contact, the applicant would have to submit a large amount of information pertaining to themselves as well as the guests.

APPLICATION MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

1. The name, address, telephone and email address of the owner(s) of record of the dwelling unit for which a certificate is sought. If such owner is not a natural person, the application shall identify all partners, officers and/or directors of any such entity, including personal contact information;
2. The address of the unit to be used as a short term vacation rental;
3. The name, address, telephone number and email address of the short term vacation rental agent, which shall constitute his or her 24-hour contact information and who shall:
a. Be reasonably available to handle any problems arising from use of the short term vacation rental unit;
b. Appear on the premises within 24 hours following notification from the City Clerk, Police Chief or the City Attorney, or his/her designee, of issues related to the use or occupancy of the premises.
c. Receive and accept service of any notice of violation related to the use or occupancy of the premises; and
d. Monitor the short term vacation rental unit for compliance with this ordinance.
4.The owner’s sworn acknowledgment that he or she has received a copy of this section, has reviewed it and understands its requirements;
5.The owner shall state the maximum occupancy for the residence, which shall be the same number as advertised and marketed to potential renters by or on behalf of the owner;
6. The owner’s agreement to use his or her best efforts to assure that use of the premises by short term vacation rental occupants will not disrupt the neighborhood, and will not interfere with the rights of neighboring property owners to the quiet enjoyment of their properties;
7. A copy of an exemplar agreement between the owner and occupant(s) which obligate the occupant to abide by all of the requirements of the ordinance, and other City ordinances, state and federal law, and that such a violation of any of these rules may result in the immediate termination of the agreement and eviction from the premises, as well as potential liability for payment of fines levied;
8. Proof of the owner’s current ownership of the short term vacation rental unit; and
9. Proof of homeowner’s insurance.

B. Registration under this code section is not transferable and should ownership of a short term vacation rental change, a new application is required, including application fee. In the event of any other change in the information or facts provided in the application, the holder of the short term rental certificate shall amend the filed application without payment of any additional application fee.

Questions also arose about the proposed ordinance not outlining where these rental properties could be placed. Stam stated of the matter, “It sounds like this ordinance supersedes the zoning that is in place and allows anybody to rent in any zoning as long as they have gone through the application process.”

Council member Nathan Fitts agreed with Stam: “It’s been very vague where there can be rentals.”

According to the ordinance a short term rental is defined as: “an accommodation for transient guests where, in exchange for compensation, a residential dwelling unit is provided for lodging for a period of time not to exceed 30 consecutive days. Short term vacation rental shall not include any residential dwelling unit not regularly offered for rental, which shall be defined as any residence offered for rental less than fourteen (14) days in any given calendar year. For the purposes of this definition, a residential dwelling shall include all housing types and shall exclude group living or other lodging uses.”

The ordinance goes further to state that “vacation rentals may be offered to the public for rental following issuance of a short term vacation rental certificate, receipt of an occupation tax certificate, and payment of any and all applicable State and City taxes” but does not address zoning.

Mayor Donna Whitener pointed out that currently short term rentals are only allowed in commercially zoned properties and are prohibited in residential zones, but acknowledged that there are rental properties in residential areas already.

“I’ve had a lot of people in the community who say they don’t want it in the residential areas,” council member Rhonda Haight said of possibility of allowing these rentals to continue.

After brief discussion Whitener suggested “cleaning up” the language of the ordinance to clearly define areas in which these short term rentals can be offered.

Further discussion is expected at the next Blue Ridge City Council meeting to be held on tonight, Dec. 11 at City Hall.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Rotary, Lodging Association help Open Arms, others at luncheon

Community

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – During their weekly luncheon Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Blue Ridge collected $230 to give to Open Arms after a fire destroyed the organization’s home late Sunday night.

Members donated various increments  during Rotary’s Giving Tuesday, and 100 percent of the proceeds went directly to Open Arms to assist with recovery efforts.

Amanda Davis, president of Rotary Club of Blue Ridge, further announced Rotary had already given a $1,000 donation to Open Arms on Monday.

Open Arms will also receive a $5,000 gift from the Blue Ridge Lodging Association (BRLA). C.J. Stam with BRLA announced the donation at the luncheon.

“So (BRLA) heard about the (Open Arms) fire. That night, immediately, we all started talking and were like ‘We’ve got to do something,'” Stam explained. “We pulled together $5,000 additional dollars that we’re going to be giving to Open Arms. As well as individual companies – member companies – of the Lodging Association have already raised another $2,000 on top of that we will be giving to Open Arms.”

Snack in a Backpack received a $4,000 donation from Rotary Club of Blue Ridge and a $7,915 donation from the Blue Ridge Lodging Association (BRLA). From left, C.J. Stam (BRLA), Snack volunteer Toots Green, Snack Program Director Angela Huffstetler, Jackie Self (Rotary), Amanda Davis (Rotary) and Greg Spenser (BRLA).

Additionally, Rotary presented Angela Huffstetler, program director of Snack in a Backpack, with a $4,000 check. Huffstetler announced Snack in a Backpack has packed over 5,000 bags and served 15,000 meals to an estimated 375 to 400 Fannin County School System students. Started in 2009 after it was realized that many students were going without adequate nourishment after leaving school for the week on Fridays, Snack provides food for students to take home them on weekends.

Snack also received a generous donation from the Lodging Association as Stam, of BRLA, presented Huffstetler with a $7,915 check.

FLAG (Fannin Literacy Action Group) received a $2,192 donation from Rotary. Teresa Ross, of FLAG, explained that the non-profit organization partners with North Georgia Technical College to offer GED, college preparation and English as a second language courses, among others, for students from age 16 and older.

Rotary donated $1,000 to Joshua’s Dream Ranch, an animal-assisted therapy ranch near Blairsville that specializes in helping special-needs children and children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. “They (the children) come out to the ranch to be cowboy for the day,” Debbie Lynn, development director of Joshua’s Dream Ranch, explained of the therapeutic value of the ranch. “I appreciate your help and willingness to help.”

Mountain Education Center (MEC) received $1,000 from the Rotary Club of Blue Ridge. From left, Charlie Edmondson (Rotary), MEC counselor Chris Martinez, MEC student Makenzie Ledford, Rotary Club President Amanda Davis and Ed Wolpet (Rotary).

Mountain Education Center was presented a $1,000 check from the Rotary. Chris Martinez, a counselor at the Fannin Mountain Education Charter High School, explained the organization consists of 19 different sites throughout the north Georgia area and its goal is to help students receive their high school diploma. Martinez said the organization provides flexible schedules to its students and hopes to graduate 25 students at its Fannin location this school year. Martinez brought with her one of the school’s students, Makenzie Ledford, who is working toward her diploma and plans to attend Roane State in Harriman, Tennessee, after graduation to pursue a dental hygienist certification. “I’m very thankful to you guys,” Ledford told the Rotary Club members.

Shop with a Cop receives $1,000 from Rotary Club of Blue Ridge. From left, FCSD Officer Darvin Couch, Pam Fink, Amanda Davis, FCSD Officer Jim Burrell.

Officers Darvin Couch and Jim Burrell, of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department, received a $1,000 donation from Rotary for Shop with a Cop. Officer Couch stated the program is in its fourth year as it provides area children with $100 each to spend on gifts for themselves or others. Couch said last year the program helped 70 children from 31 different families. This year, the program will take place on Dec. 9. Couch explained much of the thrill he has seen in the past has come from watching what the children buy, not only for themselves but for their families. “Their money wasn’t all for them,” Couch stated.

Lastly, Ferst Foundation, an organization designed to promote childhood literacy, was given a $5,000 donation from Rotary. The foundation sends one book a month to children under the age of five whose parents or legal guardians register their child for the program. To date, Ferst Foundation has provided over 30,000 books, at no charge, to children in Fannin County, according to June Slesser with the foundation. Currently, 407 books per month are being given to children in Fannin, and Slesser stated just under 1,000 children are eligible to receive a book per month from the foundation.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

 

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Blues, Brews, and BBQs

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

BLUE RIDGE, GA – Thousands descended upon our beautiful downtown area for a weekend of fun as Blue Ridge kicked off its annual Blues and BBQ Festival.

The festivities began Friday evening with the 12th Annual Rotary Blues Jam. Live music was held at the Train Depot where residents and visitors alike stopped to enjoy the music and partake in the street dance.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Musicians take the stage at Blues and BBQ Festival.

Others opted for an evening of fine dining and adult beverages as businesses throughout downtown opened up their doors for the Blues Crawl. Ten establishments took part in this event and live music from these venues filled the streets.

Saturday, September 15,  saw the main event of the festival. The streets were lined with Barbeque vendors and artists. The beautiful weather helped make for the largest turnout in the festival’s seven year run.

Barbecue vendors got to experience this large crowd first hand, with many vendors selling out during the day. Elliot Wilborn, owner of Smokin’ E’s BBQ, was among those vendors that sold out in the beginning half of the day.

When asked what drew him to setting up as a vendor he laughed and said, “Well, it’s a Bar-B-Que festival.” He then went on to add that, “he wanted to represent Blue Ridge and show visitors what our town has to offer.”

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Crowds gather on West Main Street.

Visitors were not disappointed as couple visiting from Memphis, a city known for Blues and BBQ, were heard saying, “Now this is real barbeque” as they sampled a selection from Smokin’ E’s.

The main stage was set up on West Main Street, near the Art Center, and the music was met with as much enthusiasm as the food being offered. People began setting up chairs early in the morning to make sure they were front row for the entertainment.

Crowds filtered in and out as the music played. Some set up camp in the yard of the Art Center to enjoy the shade while others danced in the street. Fun was had by all as the music went on into the evening.

Blues and BBQ wasn’t just for the adults this year, as an impressive Kid’s Corner was also set up near the Park along East Main Street. Children were able to take part in face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses equipped with giant slides, and Blue Ridge’s renovated city park equipment.

Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Blues and BBQ, 2017, Blue Ridge Lodging Association, Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, Snack in a Backpack

Nancy Fangle created one of a kind balloon art at the kid’s corner.

The festival was dubbed a success with the Blues and BBQ Facebook page exclaiming that it was the biggest one yet.

The Blues and BBQ Festival is presented by the Blue Ridge Lodging Association and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce. While it is a day of fun and entertainment, the event itself helps to provide for children in our community.

Proceeds go to Snack in a Backpack. This organization provides healthy food items for our local children who receive their meals at school, but might have little to no food in their homes during the weekend. Snack in a Backpack delivers food to our schools during the week for these children to take home with them over the weekend.

 

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Blue Ridge Trout Fest and Outdoor Adventures Focuses on Fannin

News

This weekend, Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 and Blue Ridge Trout Fest and Outdoor Adventures will promote everything outdoors that Fannin has to offer.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea for the festival to capture the camping, hiking, biking, rafting and, of course, trout fishing that people come here for. Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited Chapter 696, the host of the event, has worked with local organizations like the Boy Scouts, Rotary Club and Fannin County High School to organize the event.  The Blue Ridge Lodging Association has helped greatly with the logistics. Keeping with the goal of promoting all of Fannin County as an outdoor destinations, all participating fishing and rafting guide services work in Fannin County. The USFS will be promoting public natural resources and trails throughout the county, especially the Trout Adventure Trail.

Bob Borgwat, Fannin fishing guide and Trout Unlimited member says that Fannin’s trout fishing is unique because there is an opportunity for every style of fisherman.  Anglers can choose between fishing for wild trout or stocked trout, brown, rainbow or brook trout.  People can fish from the headwaters to the tailwaters year-round.  Even during late summer, upstream feeder creeks have brook trout. The fishing areas are diverse as well, from river and creek access points near a road to back-county access points promising solitude but requiring a hike. In fact, all surface water in Fannin County is classified as trout water quality by the EPD.  And, it helps that Fannin is about the first cold-water fishing opportunity a person hits when travelling north from Florida.

Mr. Borgwat, whose articles about north Georgia trout fishing has appeared in Southern Trout and Georgia Outdoors, will be giving a presentation about wild trout on the Upper Toccoa. Other presentations include tips and tactics, making fishing flies and choosing equipment.  Atlanta Fly Fishing will offer free fly-fishing lessons in the morning.  There will also be a casting pool where local guides and vendors can help festival-goers better their form. (click here for program schedule)

Other activities include a kid’s area which Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association is running.  On Friday night, the Rotary Club is sponsoring “Trout Train”.  On Saturday, three north Georgia bands will be performing in the Beer Garden area.

The Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventure will be the 1st  trout festival in Georgia. Even before it occurs, the festival is already Georgia’s official trout festival.  House Speaker David Ralston built on his commitment of promoting Fannin tourism and Fannin County as the Trout Capital of Georgia by passing a resolution that the Blue Ridge Trout Fest is Georgia’s official trout festival.

Trout Unlimited expects between 5,000 and 8,000 people and has its sights on a larger crowd next year.  Proceeds from the event will fund Trout Unlimited’s programs in Fannin county like Trout in the Classroom, Project Healing Waters for Wounded Veterans, Casting for Recovery from Breast Cancer, Boy Scouts’ and Girl Scouts’ conservation education, Georgia Trout Camp, Trout Adventure Trail and Mercier Orchard Family Fishing Days.

 

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