Neighbors object to vacation rental of $3.3M Riverview Boulevard mansion

Neighbors say loud parties at $3.3M mansion are hard to bear

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 1, 2013 

MANATEE -- Wealthy Riverview Boulevard residents ordinarily enjoy genteel quiet, but sometimes during tourist season, one $3.3 million home becomes a noisy party house, neighbors complain.

"Majestic Custom Home With Panoramic Views," boasts the vacation rental website, which advertises the home at 6606 Riverview Blvd. as having four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, five-car garage, heated resort-style infinity pool with spa, home theater, fitness room and game room.

It may seem as if the posh mansion in a single family residential area is an unlikely spot for a vacation rental, but because of a change in state law two years ago, it can legally be rented out by the day, week or month, according to county officials.

The house is owned by a company based in the United Kingdom, according to property records.

The cost of renting it during peak tourist season: $4,500 a week, or $18,000 per month, the vacation rental website states.

Large parties of tourists, sometimes more than a dozen at a time, frolic in the backyard pool, enjoy an outdoor tiki bar equipped with a top-of-the-line stereo system, sometimes into the wee hours, and use the dock, spa, gym and basketball court, neighbors told the Herald on Thursday.

Andy Moore, president of Gulf Villa Rentals Inc., disputes the noise complaints. Moore said he tried to help one neighbor without success. He recalled another complaint in which law enforcement officers, the guest and the rental agent determined noise at the home had not been excessive.

"We would like to know if a hotel rental, such as this house is being rented out, is allowed in a residential neighborhood," wrote one neighbor in a complaint last spring to county officials. The answer: It's perfectly legal, according to Manatee County Attorney Mickey Palmer.

"It gets to the whole question whether or not we can regulate the vacation-type rentals of single family homes," said Palmer. "The answer is no -- state law prohibits us from doing so."

He cited a law passed by the Florida Legislature in 2011 that stripped local governments of their ability to regulate vacation rentals.

The law, House Bill 883, forbids local governments from "regulating, restricting or prohibiting" vacation rentals, with some grandfathered exceptions.

The neighborhood along Riverview Boulevard apparently has no homeowners' association, which often will include strict restrictions on renting out properties in its bylaws.

Residents living in cities on Anna Maria Island have complained about oversized vacation rental duplexes springing up on single lots, late-night noisy parties, residential streets jammed with cars, and trash and litter left behind by tourists.

"This is a law that has been the subject of lots of discussion and consternation among local governments," said Palmer. "Particularly, the island communities are lobbying to have the Legislature repeal this law so they can, in fact, regulate the short-term rental of these residences."

Crimes or code enforcement violations committed on the premises can be investigated or prosecuted, Palmer said.

"We do have a noise ordinance on the books, and if there are noise violations going on, it can be documented through the code enforcement process," Palmer said.

Code enforcement officials did investigate a complaint last April of loud music, talking and singing on the outside patio late at night, Manatee County Building and Development Services Chief John Barnott confirmed.

Department records do not show any communication from neighbors since then, he said.

"We want a harmonious relationship. We want the neighbor to feel they can call us if they have concerns, yet they're more inclined to call the police than us," said Moore.

Neighbors having trouble should call the rental agent in conjunction with the police, Moore suggested.

"We don't want to hide anything, but we would also like to know if there is an issue -- we can deal with the guest," Moore said. "It's interesting that property owners who were once tourists would wish to deny others the same opportunities they were afforded."

The house was purchased last summer for $3.35 million by Mission Recycling Ltd. of Evesham Worcestershire, United Kingdom, according to property records.

The vacation rental website shows the house was rented almost all of April through September, with vacancies through the fall months, and rentals slated to pick up again in December and January.

"We can't figure out what's happening," said Stanley Colman, a retiree who has lived on the same block as the vacation rental for 30 years.

Noise from renters has not bothered him because he is a heavy sleeper, he said, but he has heard complaints from his neighbors.

"It doesn't help resale values -- or anything else," he said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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