Commissioners ban nightly rentals in Cobbles
Wednesday , June 11, 2014 - 6:37 PM
OGDEN — A cozier, more tranquil neighborhood than the Cobbles might be hard to find.
But several residents in this gated condominium community bordering State Route 39 and the Ogden River recently united in opposition to some of their neighbors who sought approval to rent out their homes by the night.
On Tuesday, Weber County commissioners voted to prohibit the practice of nightly rentals in condominiums in Ogden Valley’s forest residential zone — the Cobbles is currently the only such property in that category.
“The majority of the people are very unhappy that they have daily rentals going on in the (gated) community,” HOA President Greg Johnson told commissioners. “We’ve had them for the last 3-1/2 years and have been trying to get them out.”
Norris and Diane Taylor moved into their Cobbles home in 1989, and said that it had only been in recent years that vacationers began renting nearby homes.
According to the Taylors, those drop-in tourists disrupted the quiet neighborhood and also drove up HOA costs due to Dumpsters and septic tanks that had to be emptied more often.
“I’ll be 84 next month — this is an aggravation, people coming in and causing ruckuses,” Norris Taylor told the commission. “They mess up our ability to rest and be peaceful.”
Kim and Colette Malan moved into the Cobbles in 1979 and helped create the neighborhood’s condominium status.
“We intentionally made it a single family neighborhood and gated it,” Kim Malan said. “We wanted a peaceful place in Ogden Canyon where we could raise a family.”
However, the great recession offered investors the opportunity to snatch up some of the homes at reduced prices.
“And they want to change the character of our neighborhood,” Kim Malan said, adding that he was sympathetic to their motives but they should have been aware of zoning limitations.
One online vacation rental ad, http://www.vrbo.com/328042, touts a Cobbles cottage “located in the perfect location to enjoy the rich variety of year-round recreation in the Ogden area.”
Cobbles resident Scott Littlefield, who led the minority group hoping for nightly rental approval, was unable to attend Tuesday’s commission meeting. Reached Wednesday, Littlefield said they purchased their home while it was in foreclosure.
“When we bought it, it was on its last leg,” Littlefield said, adding that the HOA’s rules “were real vague on nightly rentals, so we had full intention of making it a vacation property.”
A few months into remodeling, Littlefield said he discovered that nightly rentals might be a problem, but saw a few of their neighbors engaging in the practice.
“We kept going forward with it and tried to petition for nightly rentals,” Littlefield said. “We realized later on that the FR-1 zone doesn’t permit those. We hoped to get that law changed.”
Richard Jones, an attorney representing the Cobbles, said the situation might be different if most of the condo owners favored nightly rentals.
“That’s not happening,” Jones told the commission, noting that the majority on the HOA board voted in April to allow rentals for at least 30 days or longer.
“But only three of the 16 are in favor right now of making this (nightly rental) change,” Jones said.
Commissioners Matthew Bell and Kerry Gibson voted to deny Littlefield’s petition. Commissioner Jan Zogmaister was not in attendance.
“I definitely have a belief in people’s individual rights to their properties,” Bell said Tuesday. “However, this is a condominium association and when you come in there, the group of residents get to set the rules.”
As development in Ogden Valley grows, Littlefield said he foresees growing demand for vacation rentals in the canyon.
“There’s big talk about a pathway slated to come in and that will bring about a lot of change,” Littlefield said. “I can’t see there not being a big difference in 10 years.”
Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.