Sunday, December 8, 2013
An ordinance to govern short-term home rentals won approval Wednesday from the Town Council, which also decided that it will revisit the measure after a year.
The rules, 14 months in the making, were characterized as a compromise to balance the rights of property owners with those of residents who want peace and quiet in their neighborhoods.
The ordinance, effective Dec.14, will require property owners to get permits for rentals of less than 30 days. Additional provisions apply for properties of less than 30,000 square feet.
A “three strikes” provision allows the town to revoke a permit for a year when a property has three substantiated complaints during a three-year period.
Residents on both sides of the debate found faults in the ordinance, with some asking for stricter provisions and others saying it burdens property owners who have not caused problems for their neighbors.
“I do agree this is a compromise,” said Peter Clifford of Lawson Road, who asked the council to consider an additional provision to bar sublessors from renting properties for short terms. “We’re not getting everything we were hoping for, but it’s something.”
The town started getting complaints last summer about loud parties, parked vehicles crowding streets and other problems. Lawson Road was the epicenter, but the town has also received complaints about other properties on Peabbles Cove Road and Keyes Lane.
The town gets about a dozen complaints a year. An estimated 50 properties are used for short-term rentals.
June Eiesland, who rents out a property on Old Ocean House Road, voiced concerns about the protocol for notifying property owners about problem renters.
She was worried that if a complaint was lodged against her property, she might not learn about it soon enough.
“I can screen to the best of my ability, but there are bad eggs, and eventually you get bad eggs,” she said.
Permit applicants must show that they have evacuation plans, off-street parking and adequate sanitary waste disposal.
On lots of 30,000 square feet or less where the owner is not living on the property or on a neighboring one, there can be no more than two people per bedroom and no more than eight total renters.
Councilor Caitlin Jordan said the rules are overly restrictive. “It’s an overreaching fix,” she said.
David Sherman was among the councilors who wanted to move forward with the ordinance.
“I’d like to get this in place, see how it works,” he said.
Council Chairwoman Sara Lennon said it didn’t make sense to rewrite the ordinance on the fly. “Why don’t we vote so we can get this going? It seems like the time has come,” she said.
Jim Huebener, who rents out a property on Kettle Cove, said he hopes the town will repeal the ordinance after its first year. He said the problems at a few properties have been projected on the rest of the town.“We’ve never had problems,” he said.
Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be reached at 791-6383 or at: