The Wellington Village Council gave initial approval to amendments regarding bed-and-breakfast businesses on Tuesday that will place additional restrictions on such operations but make them more feasible.
Bed and breakfasts are permitted in Wellington but none exist because the limitation on the number of guestrooms does not make them financially feasible, according to village planners.
Growth Management Director Bob Basehart explained that the ordinance changes two sections of the land development regulations, for all areas of the village, and separate regulations for the Equestrian Overlay Zoning District (EOZD).
Changes for the entire village include requiring approval by the Development Review Committee, which is made up of several staff members across different departments, in lieu of the current requirement of a special use permit, which only involves a planning staff member.
The amendments add a minimum lot size of 2 acres, with a maximum number of five rooms on 2 to 5 acres, and a maximum of eight rooms on lots of 5 acres or more. They allow for required alterations to the exterior of the building and limited signage.
A connection to public water and wastewater and additional parking are required, and long-term rentals are not permitted, with a maximum stay of 30 consecutive days.
In the EOZD, the current lot size requirement is 3 acres, which would be reduced to 2 acres to make it consistent throughout the village.
“It has been suggested that one of the reasons we don’t have any bed-and-breakfast facilities is because of the limit on the number of rooms you can rent,” Basehart said. “It doesn’t make them feasible to do.”
He pointed out that the amendments came about as the result of a private application that had been submitted to the village.
“The original request was for up to 10 rooms and, over the course of the review, it has been reduced to 8 rooms maximum,” Basehart said.
He said required alterations for the Americans with Disabilities Act were made allowable because bed-and-breakfasts are generally modifications of private residences. Also, after looking around at other municipalities that allow bed and breakfasts, Basehart said they noticed that small signs were allowed, and decided to allow up to a 4-square-foot sign with up-lighting, with no internal lighting or neon signs allowed. All that the signs can announce is the name of the facility.
He added that if public water and wastewater is available, the facility must be connected. They cannot operate on well and septic unless the village engineer specifically approves it.
“We’ve added the Palm Beach County Health Department because they’re actually the agency that approves them,” Basehart said.
The application previously had been before the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board and the council. The council remanded the application back to the PZA Board for reconsideration after making some recommendations for changes, which included the 30-day maximum stay, as well as additional parking requirements.
“Currently, there are no specific parking requirements for bed and breakfasts,” Basehart said.
The amendment would require the normal two spaces for any single-family home, with an additional space for each bedroom over four bedrooms, plus an additional parking space for each guestroom.
In the EOZD, where barns are allowed, stabling would be allowed only for guests at the bed and breakfast and the owner. Barns would be required to provide separate parking in accordance with the normal parking requirements for barns. No tents or temporary structures would be permitted.
Within the EOZD, there is an existing separation requirement of a quarter-mile, which would be added to the overall village. Additionally, bed-and-breakfast businesses must be located within a quarter-mile of a collector or arterial road.
Basehart showed a map of areas in the village that would be potentially eligible for bed-and-breakfast locations, and Mayor Anne Gerwig pointed out that some of the areas are within homeowners’ associations, which might have their own rules.
Councilman Michael Drahos said he had heard comments that people thought the village was loosening restrictions.
“That very much is not the case,” Drahos said. “My impression is actually that we are tightening up restrictions on this.”
Drahos was concerned about the definition of the “owner/operator,” who is required to maintain residence at the facility.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said she had looked up ordinances in other parts of the state and all of them included an owner/operator restriction, but do not provide a particular definition, nor do they discuss whether the owner/operator is a corporate entity.
“We can’t say that you can’t take advantage of the corporate form of ownership for a property,” Cohen said. “Many properties in the village are actually owned by a corporate entity.”
She said the council could require some type of affidavit from the property owner or authorized corporate representative stating that the owner/operator holds a certain percentage of ownership of the property or is an officer of the corporation, and the requirement could be addressed through the DRC process.
Councilman Michael Napoleone said the concern was with bed and breakfasts having absentee owners. “As long as they are the owners of that company, that’s fine, but I think we want to avoid having someone, say, give them a 1 percent interest just so they can satisfy the requirement of being an owner, and it’s actually run from somewhere else,” he said.
At the council’s direction, Cohen said she would draft an affidavit requirement to have ready for the final reading of the ordinance.