BY PAULA MINAERT — Bed-and-breakfasts now have officially become a part of Hyattsville life. At its October 3 meeting, the city council moved to regulate these establishments by adding them to the city charter, the document that outlines all the rules for living here.
In addition to approving the rules, the council voted to send a letter to the Prince George’s County council in support of B&Bs, because the zoning for the Gateway Arts District – which encompasses most of Hyattsville – does not list them in its table of uses. So B&Bs are not allowed in most sections of the city and only the county council can change that.
The motion to send the letter to the county council came at the behest of Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2), who drafted it.
“As a council we spend so much time dealing with massive issues like road improvements or time-sensitive matters. The things people elect us to do often involve these small matters that don’t affect lot of people but for those people it’s a big issue,” she said. “I’m glad we found a chance in our crazy schedule to shoehorn in an issue that affects people in our community who are trying to make Hyattsville better.”
There is currently nothing in the city charter about B&Bs.
Chris Giunta, acting director of code enforcement, said, “It only recently came to our attention that we had a few operating here.”
The whole issue surfaced last year, said Giunta, with a complaint made to his office about a parking problem. They investigated that complaint and discovered a B&B there, and later found others.
In response, Councilmember Tim Hunt (Ward 3) moved that the city council ask the Prince George’s County Council to amend the arts district zoning to include B&Bs. Despite the endorsement of both the Planning Committee and the Code Enforcement Advisory Committee, the city council decided in November not to do so.
The council’s current motion to regulate B&Bs will apply only to the part of the city that currently allows them, which is primarily University Hills.
According to Giunta, the motion takes the definition and restrictions for B&Bs listed by the county and adds them to the business licensing section of the city charter, while making some minor changes. It also sets the annual fees for them: $50 for one room, $100 for two or three rooms and $200 for four or more.
“The fees are lower than most business licenses because we realize that owners aren’t doing it as a major source of income,” said Giunta.
The council also passed an amendment to the city’s existing policy on variances for lot coverage. It said the city will generally not support requests for more hardscape [paving] for parking purposes.
The B&B ordinance requires one off-street parking space per rented room, but another city ordinance states that no more than 25 percent of a front yard can be paved.
“The council didn’t want a bunch of variance requests asking for a waiver of the 25 percent restriction because people want to add another rental room,” said Giunta.