Supervisors approve maximum tax rates; short term rental ordinances

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will advertise Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) tax rates that match current rates, indicating they will not increase in the coming year.

Supervisors voted 5-0 at their meeting Wednesday night (March. 20) to advertise a maximum real estate rate of $0.844 per $100 of assessed value and a personal property tax rate of $4.10 per $100. Business and Tools & Machinery tax rates will also remain unchanged.

Once advertised, supervisors cannot vote to exceed those rates to fund the $109,232,910 FY25 budget.

Discussions on the finishing details of the budget will continue for the next several weeks leading up to the final vote on April 17.

Short term rentals

During a public hearing supervisors approved ordinance changes allowing short-term rentals as a by-right use in all residential and agricultural zoning districts.

Outside Lake Monticello, where the homeowner’s association prohibits short-term rentals, county residents can rent rooms or residences to guests for stays of less than 30 days. 

The details of what was and was not allowable changed significantly between the start and end of the hearing. 

A provision limiting farms to one rental unit per 10 acres was reduced to one per 5 acres. Rentals of “accessory units” like sheds, treehouses, or other detached dwellings were initially prohibited but will be allowed. 

There was also a discussion of how many people could share one bedroom. 

The original language limiting “lawful bedrooms” to a maximum of two people was changed to “two adults,” meaning children could share a bedroom with parents or other adults.

Several of these changes came at the urging of Tony O’Brien (Rivanna), who said he found the recommendations of the Planning Commission “overly restrictive.”

“Are we really going to get into how many people are showing up to a bedroom?” he asked.

He argued that market forces would dictate what short-term rental hosts offered their guests.

After some debate, his colleagues generally agreed to a looser set of regulations.

Short-term rentals have operated in Fluvanna without scrutiny for many years. The passage of a 5 percent transient occupancy tax in October 2023 opened a discussion on some standards for these operations.

Other provisions approved by the supervisors set rules for things like parking, signage, and safety. 

Those wishing to offer short-term rentals must submit an application to the county for taxation purposes.

Solar timelines

The Planning Commission has asked for an extended period to make recommendations on the future of solar farms in the county.

In March, supervisors passed “resolutions of intention” to remove utility-scale solar generation as a specially permitted use in A-1 (Agriculture) zoning districts and to more tightly regulate solar facilities of any size.

The Planning Commission wants 90 days to study the zoning issue and 180 days to debate regulations. This would allow them time to hold work sessions, public hearings, and town halls before reaching any final conclusions.

County Attorney Dan Whitten said state law does not allow the county to have a moratorium on new or pending solar projects. However, the county has 12 months to make final decisions on any application, which should keep projects from moving forward during this extended period. 

O’Brien objected to splitting the issues into separate review periods, arguing that they were so closely connected that artificially separating them would confuse the public. 

He voted against the 90-day extension on the zoning issue, which passed 4-1. The 180-day extension passed 5-0.

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