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Damascus reopens transient lodging, tables new rules

Damascus reopens transient lodging, tables new rules

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DAMASCUS, Va. — Damascus Town Council struck down proposals to change the rules of transient lodging at Thursday’s council meeting.

“I think we need to let this situation cool down,”‘ said Town Council member Beaty Jackson. “This is a hornet’s nest.”

Earlier this year, a committee spent five months preparing a new list of rules for property owners who rent lodging to transient — or temporary — visitors, who typically stay overnight or a few days.

Damascus relies on tourism for its economy. The town’s tourist traffic is driven by its proximity to the Virginia Creeper Trail, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Appalachian Trail and the nearby Cherokee National Forest.

Newly appointed Town Council member Robert Van de Vuurst headed the committee that studied the transient lodging issue.

Van de Vuurst also cast the lone vote against Jackson’s motion to table the issue.

“There are more important issues,” Jackson said. “Neighbors aren’t talking to each other. People aren’t being civil about it.”

Some citizens have complained that they don’t like being neighbors next to houses that are continually rented by strangers.

Yet the arguments in town over the proposed regulations — now tabled —­ have caused damage on Facebook to Damascus’ reputation as the “Friendliest Town” on the Appalachian Trail, former Mayor Jack McCrady said during the meeting’s public comments.

In another move, the town’s moratorium on opening any more transient lodging businesses was struck down with a unanimous vote.

“Everything goes back to the way it was,” McCrady said.

Following the votes, Mayor Katie Lamb said she understood the concerns of residents over transient lodging and promised, “We’re not going to forget about you.”

jtennis@bristolnews.com | 276-791-0709 | @BHC_Tennis

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