Whether a developer can restrict vacation rentals at a proposed new subdivision was heavily discussed at the Williams City Council meeting Aug. 9.
Developer Steve Iverson is in the process with the city to develop Phantom Ranch Subdivision, a proposed 34-home subdivision on five acres at the 1000 block of Airport Road in Williams. Iverson is also requesting the area be zoned R1-4.
Although many residents are happy to see more housing, there is concern about the homes being purchased and rented as vacation homes.
Chief Building Inspector Tim Pettit said the subdivision can only be restricted to occupation by primary ownership with CC&Rs and a homeowners association. He said legislation by the state of Arizona does not allow cities to limit vacation rentals.
“This is the most restrictive we can do per state legislation,” Pettit said. “This is all we can do.”
City councilmember Jim Wurgler said he repeatedly hears about Williams homes being offered as vacation rentals, limiting options for local residents looking to rent.
“This vacation rental by owner and Airbnb conundrum is a problem,” he said. Developer Steve Iverson said his goal is to provide affordable housing for the residents of Williams.
“My goal here is not to build vacation rentals, I’m not in the in hotel business,” he said. “I’m a home builder, my product that I’m bringing to the city of Williams is affordable housing.”
Pettit said the CC&RS and an active homeowners association will restrict vacation rentals, however, if the homeowners association becomes inactive, there is no enforcement that can be done by the city.
“If this is going to be enforced, they have to have a meeting once a year,” he said.
Mayor John Moore said either way, the city of Williams needs housing.
“In my opinion we need housing and this is the best deal I’ve seen come along in many years,” he said.
City councilmember Lee Payne added, “I think the mayor is right, so we just don’t build these houses? People are going to do what they’re going to do. I move that we approve this.”
The Williams Planning and Zoning Commission approved the rezoning and preliminary plat at their July 27 meeting.
In early July, the Williams City Council voted to approve R1-4 zoning for Williams, a new zoning that allows a developer to build homes on 4,000 square foot lots. Previously, developers were restricted to R1-7 zoning which allowed a minimum lot size of 7,000 square feet. The R1-4 zoning will allow developers to create more lots per acre.
The zoning will maintain the setback and open space requirements that are seen in R1-7 zoning, which will require the home sizes to be smaller to accommodate the open space requirements. The minimum open space requirement will be five feet on the side yard, 15 feet for the backyard and 20 feet for the front yard, which is the same at R1-7 zoning. The maximum building height Is 26 feet, which is less than the 35 feet for R1-7 zoning. The total minimum open space is 65 percent which is the same as R1-7 zoning.
The R1-4 zoning will be limited to five to 20 acres of property.
Airport Road resident Robynn Smith-Eckel addressed the council regarding potential traffic issues with the new development.
“I just wanted to make the city aware that there is going to be a problem with traffic when that development goes through,” she said.
Smith-Eckel said she believes there could be around 68 cars in the new development which could increase traffic on the road.
“I make four trips in every day and four trips out, that’s a minimum of eight,” she said. “So you take eight times 68 cars out there when this development gets done and that’s 540 cars coming between my house and Old Trails all day long.”
Smith-Eckel suggested the city place round-about on the road or another fixture to slow traffic headed to town.
“It is a speed track as it is now, people go 70 mph because it’s a straight stretch,” she said.
Moore later addressed Smith-Eckel’s concern.
“There’s no doubt that traffic will increase out there, Robynn is exactly right,” he said. “That is something we may have to address down the road.”
The council unanimously passed approval for the rezoning and preliminary plat.
A public meeting regarding final plat approval for the Phantom Ranch Subdivision is Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be at the Williams Council Chambers at 113 S. First Street in Williams.