Known as Ordinance 624, the measure was on the council’s agenda to be passed on first reading on Monday.
But when it came up for consideration, Councilman Will Grinder and Mayor Chris Mitchell both criticized the proposed ordinance as written — with Grinder and Mitchell taking completely opposite positions.
Grinder criticized the measure as being “too restrictive,” while Mitchell said he believed it was not restrictive enough.
As defined in the proposal, short-term rentals would be anything of 30 days’ duration or less, but at least one overnight stay.
The ordinance is meant to regulate the new residential short-term housing rental market popularized by such websites as Airbnb.com and Vrbo.com (Vacation rentals by owner).
“I do support an ordinance,” Grinder said. “I just believe this one is too restrictive.”
Grinder also objected to the requirement that residential property owners wanting to rent their homes out to vacationers must obtain a business license, and to collect hotel taxes on the rentals.
“I don’t support requiring a business license, and I don’t like the hotel tax,” Grinder said.
While Grinder was calling for less oversight on short-term rentals, Mitchell said he supports more.
“I want it to be very controlled,” the mayor said.
Mitchell began his remarks saying, “This is an extremely sensitive topic [that] impacts the potential culture of Norris. This needs to be done right. We need, before we put this in, to be very careful.”
After the meeting, Mitchell told The Courier News that what he wants to avoid with such short-term rentals is having entrepreneurs buying up groups of residential properties in Norris to turn them into virtual hotels, which he said would adversely affect quality of life in the city.
“That’s already going on in Nashville and other cities,” he said.
The mayor made a motion to table the proposed ordinance for more study and possible revisions, and suggested that the council might want to conduct a workshop meeting in which the public could present views on the issue. That motion passed unanimously.
In other business Monday:
• The council voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Jill Holland Ryan from her position as a member of the council. She submitted an email resignation to City Manager Scott Hackler on Sept. 28, saying she was moving out of the city.
But Hackler said the council would have to vote to accept her resignation, and begin the process to replace her until a successor could be elected in the 2022 city election. She had been on the council only 10 months, after winning the seat in the 2020 city election.
Ryan’s brief tenure on the council was somewhat stormy, as she clashed with the mayor and some other council members on certain issues, including the removal of the big oak tree in the Norris Commons, and a proposal from resident George Miceli that the city either purchase the downtown business complex that includes Archer’s market and the post office.
She opposed cutting down the rotting tree, which Hackler chose to remove for safety reasons. She initially voiced approval for Miceli’s idea of having the city buy the downtown buildings rather than allow a private investor to buy them from the current owner.
• The council agreed to take applications from people interested in replacing Ryan on the council, with plans to appoint someone to the seat during the November council meeting. Anyone interested in serving on the council is asked to send a letter to Hackler.
Mitchell showed the council and spectators at the meeting a large replica check from the state treasurer’s office for $2,303.65, representing money given to the city this week from the state’s unclaimed-property fund.
The money will go into the city’s general fund for routine city budget items.
• The council approved a contract with Shafer Tech in Norris to maintain the city’s computer systems for the next three years.