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The Buena Vista board of trustees will take up discussion of short term rentals at their next meeting May 26, as well as newly-announced state regulations that would allow businesses to temporarily extend the premise of their liquor license to facilitate social distancing once restaurants and bars are permitted to reopen.

The topic of short-term rentals, sometimes also referred to as vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) or AirBnBs, is scheduled to be discussed in a work session before the board’s official meeting Tuesday.

“Short-term rentals was a topic, or component, that the board wanted to dive into a little bit. We’re going to share a little bit of history about what has happened in town in the last 10-ish years in terms of code changes and regulations and new developments to provide a broader picture on just our local housing progression,” said town administrator Phillip Puckett.

During the main meeting, the board is scheduled to discuss the Liquor Enforcement Division’s Emergency Regulation 47-302, which was announced last Friday and whose purpose is “to establish procedures for a licensee seeking to make material or substantial alterations to the licensed premises, and provide factors the licensing authority must consider when evaluating such alterations for approval or rejection.”

In other words, the temporary rules may allow businesses with liquor licenses to extend the perimeter in which they can serve alcohol into adjacent areas to give patrons more space to spread out and maintain social distance.

“If a restaurant has a parking lot, for example, and their liquor premises doesn’t include that parking lot, they can request an extension to include the parking lot so that they can put tables or create spacing out there, or even expanding into the street, creating kind of a temporary patio type thing,” Puckett said. “We don’t fully understand all of the details yet. We’re hoping to learn more (Wednesday) to have an idea of what the process would look like for local bars and restaurants to request this, and we’re going to make sure the board is supportive of that approach.”

Puckett said the temporary rules came without much involvement from local jurisdictions, leaving the town unsure of what to tell its business communities about what the regulations mean for them in practice, or when the rules might take effect.

“We had no participation or awareness that it was coming,” he said. “It’s just kind of unfortunate they put us behind.”

Also on the agenda, the board will conduct a final review of its strategic projects and goals over the next 5 years and revisit a discussion of infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks, needed for the undeveloped block across East Main Street from Avery-Parsons Elementary School before it fills in.

The board will also vote on an ordinance approving a lease-puchase agreement for a new patrol car for the Buena Vista Police Department.

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