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story.lead_photo.caption Lois Hogan owns the building at 530 E. High St., shown here in September 2017, that is used for temporary stays and can be booked online. It has rooms that can be rented for a few days, a week, month or several months, depending on your needs. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Hoping to attract more visitors to Jefferson City and provide unique experiences, property owners were pleased when the Jefferson City Council approved their permits to operate short-term rentals Monday night.

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The council approved resolutions granting special exception permits for 1632 Tanner Bridge Road, 412 Cherry St., 134 W. Circle Drive and 1001 W. High St. so those property owners could offer their residences or spare rooms as short-term rentals.

These are the first short-term rental special exception permits the council has approved since it legalized operating short-term rentals in January. The Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission approved the permits last month.

Under city ordinance, a property owner can offer a short-term rental where someone rents a residence for less than one month. A property owner could also rent out a lodging room where someone rents a single room or basement for less than a month. Short-term lodging room rentals cannot have multiple rentals in the same residence.

Brad and Julie Fitzmaurice plan to rent out their home at 134 W. Circle Drive "to give people an option outside of traditional hotels," Julie said.

The council approved the resolution 9-1, with Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich voting against the resolution due to concerns with lack of parking.

A couple of neighbors emailed the council with concerns for parking in the neighborhood and excessive noise.

Senior Planner Eric Barron said the city planners found the area met the code's parking requirements, adding he thought short-term rentals would have less cars than many single-family homes since most renters bring one car while a family could have multiple cars. He noted a maximum of five unrelated people or an unlimited number of related individuals can stay in a short-term rental at one time.

According to city code, property owners also cannot use short-term rentals for receptions, parties or weddings. Properties still would be subject to the city's noise ordinance.

The council unanimously approved Mary "Missy" Creed's and Joseph McFerron's special exception permit to rent out their spare bedroom at their Tanner Bridge Road location. Creed told the Planning and Zoning Commission last month they would limit the number of guests to three adults simultaneously.

"I think it just gives a unique experience for visitors staying in Jefferson City," said Creed, who has used Airbnb before.

Mike and Lisa Yungbluth plan to use the three units in their West High Street triplex as short-term rental units, limiting the number of people for a unit to three or four individuals.

Gerardo and Staci Cornejor at 412 Cherry St., plan to rent out their home but would limit the number of guests to five adults simultaneously, Gerardo told the commission last month.

Property owners operating short-term rentals must pay the city's 7-percent lodging tax and obtain a business license, under city code. They must also adhere to the city's building and fire code inspection requirements.

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If a property owner violates the short-term rental ordinance, he or she could be fined up to $1,000 and/or be imprisoned up to three months. If the Jefferson City Police Department find signs of illegal activities or the city's code enforcement officials decide property owners have violated their special exception permits, the property may face revocation of their permits.

While short-term rental property owners hope to provide more local experiences to tourists, the state's hotel and motel industry is worried these rentals will impact their occupancy rates. Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association Board President Trey Propes said last month that hotels must follow stricter fire and building regulations, the same standard he thinks short-term rentals should also follow. He added he was worried there would be safety issues with short-term rentals.

Jefferson City saw 1,100 Airbnb guests in 2017, averaging about 90 per month, Airbnb Midwest spokesman Ben Breit said last month. These numbers might be inflated due to a spike in Airbnb guests near the time of last year's solar eclipse, he added.

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