CUMMING, Ga. — It’s become one of the most controversial issues in recent years – short-term rentals. Forsyth County commissioners have discussed this with the public countless times, but the problem remains unfixed.

“I think where we are all still struggling on both sides of the issue, and us on the board as well, is determining the answer to the question where,” District 5 commissioner Laura Semanson said. “We can talk about the why and the how all day long, but ultimately we have to determine where they're allowed. That's where a big point of division is right now. One side of the aisle says ‘we don't want to see them in residential communities,’ and the other side says ‘but that's where they have to be.’”

Semanson referenced the county’s code, in place since the 90’s, which she says prohibits lodging services.

“That's kind of the point we’re at is determining not whether we want to lock down on that, but whether we want to expand on it and permit things that are currently impermissible,” she said.

Todd Levent, the district 3 commissioner, says more questions need to be answered.

“There needs to be I think some really in-depth laws by the state or decisions by a judge,” he said. “For example, what is the definition and the difference of a long-term being investment property, or the short-term being a business? Or is a long term also a business? And where does that line stop on start?”

Julia Matthews lives in Fulton County but owns a rental property in Forsyth County. She’s been present for some meetings recently and brings a unique perspective.

“I've got an incurable disease that's kind of an ongoing thing that requires surgery is periodically,” Matthews said. “We actually started renting out the home on a more regular basis when my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.”

She says the extra income has helped her offset the medical bills, and she’s not sure what she will do if the county does away with short-term rentals.

“We want to use our property the way we want to use it. We don't want to be governed in how we use it so long as it's not disturbing our neighbors,” Matthews said. “I have half a mind to deny a life-saving surgery and die a martyr for this cause, if they do away with it.”

The next public hearing on the topic will happen in early April.

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