B&B approved in Georgetown as state legislature mulls regulations

If you think a bed and breakfast has to be in a historic building or an exotic setting, think again. Homeowners Shawn and Melissa Carver have secured a special-use permit to operate a bed and breakfast in their newer single-family home on Westside Drive in Georgetown Township, the first in the township’s history.

The Township Planning Commission reviewed the couple’s request on Nov. 1.

According to township ordinance, a bed and breakfast operation is permitted in a residential neighborhood if a special-use permit is issued. A neighbor reported that the Carvers did not have a permit.

Shawn Carver said he had been unaware that a special-use permit was needed, but when he heard about it, he applied immediately. Planning Commissioner Jeannine Bolhouse said she believes many people do this and don’t know that a special-use permit is needed.

Planning Commissioner Tim Smit expressed a concern that the single-family dwelling would become a multi-family dwelling, but was assured by other commissioners there were safeguards in place.

“This request is similar to a day care  because the (continued) use is required to meet the standards,” said Chairman Greg Honderd. If problems occur, the neighbors can complain to the township and the permit may be revoked.

Although the ordinance has been in place since 1991, no other applications have been considered, according to the township zoning office.

Despite some reservations, the Planning Commission determined that standards of the ordinance were being met and unanimously approved the special-use permit. It allows the Carvers to rent one bedroom for use by three to four people.

Township Clerk Richard VanderKlok, the Township Board liaison to the Planning Commission, said the state legislature has been talking about taking away local zoning control over such residential short-term rentals and placing it with the state. The Michigan Townships Association has recommended that local boards oppose this change. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill are still in committee.