CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board  continued working Tuesday on proposed zoning changes to regulate short-term home rentals.

Town officials have been working since last year to develop rules for short-term rental properties because of complaints about renters throwing loud parties and clogging narrow streets with numerous parked cars. The town has no specific requirements for short-term rental properties.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing June 19 before forwarding the amendments to the Town Council or making more changes. The Town Council will hold a public hearing before making decisions on zoning changes.

Homeowners who rent their properties say the income helps pay for mortgages and taxes. Chris Grennon of Sea Barn Road said he and his neighbors have had to deal with renters playing loud music and crowding the small neighborhood with dozens of cars.

Town officials became aware of problems at rental properties after town employees received complaints last summer about frequent, loud parties and many parked cars. Town officials identified 35 properties that were advertised as weekly rentals for all or part of the year. Rates ranged from $11,000 per week to less than $1,000.

Town Manager Michael McGovern said it is difficult to estimate how many complaints the town has received because some are logged with police while other people call the code enforcement officer. He estimates the town receives a dozen complaints per year. The most recent complaint followed a bachelor party last weekend at a rented home on Lawson Road. 

Under the proposed zoning changes, the number of tenants allowed in a short-term rental would be capped at two per bedroom, up to a total of 10 tenants. The number of guests – defined as people who do not spend the night – would be limited to 10 at a time.

Property owners would be required to apply for short-term rental permits, which would be issued after an inspection by the code enforcement officer. The rental properties would have to have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, a fire extinguisher and egress illumination, as well as a building evacuation plan. The ordinance also would require at least one parking space per four tenants.
Homes that are rented for less than two weeks per year would be exempt.

On Tuesday, much of the Planning Board’s discussion centered on whether to include requirements for guest parking, which it decided against. The consensus was that restricting the number of guests would naturally limit the number of cars at a rental property. The board could add requirements after the public hearing, said Town Planner Maureen O’Meara.

O’Meara said draft amendments that include changes suggested by the board will be available to the public by June 13.

“The public needs to have a clear version to look at so they know what to comment on at the public hearing,” she said.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian