Dozens of people, including local government officials, citizens, realtors, and media were turned away from a planned town hall meeting about the vacation industry at the Lake of the Ozarks hosted by Expedia Thursday night in Osage Beach.

Dozens of people, including local government officials, citizens, realtors, and media were turned away from a planned town hall meeting about the vacation industry at the Lake of the Ozarks hosted by Expedia Thursday night in Osage Beach.

Deputies with Osage Beach Police Department and Camden County Sheriff’s Office were stationed at Tan-Tar-A Resort around 5:30 p.m. to keep things calm as people were upset to find out a publicized forum hosted by Homeaway.com would not be open to the public. Homeaway, whose parent company is Expedia, is a world wide leader in the online vacation rental industry. 

According to information obtained by the Lake Sun, an email was circulated on Jan. 4, addressed to Lake of the Ozarks property owners and managers, through Homeaway.com's government relations division. The site hosts more than 400 listings from the Lake of the Ozarks area with prices ranging from $2,100 to under $100 a night.

The email invited property owners and managers to attend the meeting to share their perspective with State Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) and hear about potential legislation to be considered during the 2017 session.

Although Franklin had confirmed to the Lake Sun earlier this week that she would be in attendance, due to other obligations she did not attend but did conference call in. The meeting was reserved to invitation-only.

Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, along with P&Z Administrator Kim Willey and incoming Assessor Marty McGuire, were some of the local government officials who were turned away.

A group known as the Lake of the Ozarks Vacation Rental Home Alliance - made up of local homeowners, realtors and business owners who oppose additional taxation and regulations to the industry - was also present and shut out from the meeting. Supporters began collecting signatures and contact information in the hopes of hosting their own forums on issues and potential legislation in the future.

Two representatives from Worley & Associates, a real estate broker based in Branson who rent property through Homeaway.com, made the long trip from Taney County expecting to get a chance to voice their opinions or at least listen to the discussion ended up frustrated. 

They said they were interested in the meeting because any proposed legislation regarding the vacation rental industry would be state-wide and also have effects on the Branson/Table Rock Lake tourism markets.

There were also rumors of the meeting being cancelled due to the frustration of locals who were turned away, but that could not be confirmed at this time. The Lake Sun plans to follow up with involved parties for a more comprehensive report.