STRASBURG — More edits to the proposed short-term rental ordinance were suggested during Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting.
Commissioner Vince Poling adamantly advocated for requiring the owner of a short-term rental property to reside in the area. Prior to Tuesday, the ordinance allowed for a local representative to act as an operator or property manager if the owner lives outside the area.
“I don’t intend to sell my house to someone in Timbuktu and they come in here and do an Airbnb,” Poling said. “I’m sorry, that’s just the way I feel about it.”
Councilwoman Emily Reynolds, who is the Town Council’s representative on the commission, proposed having a limit on the number short-term rentals in town. Not only would this preserve housing stock, it would prevent the Town Council from getting bogged down in the approval process.
“It wouldn’t have to be super restrictive,” she said
But Town Planning and Zoning Administrator Lee Pambid questioned if the affordable housing market would be impacted if people are seeking market-rate or expensive properties to make into short-term rentals.
Pambid also said most short-term rentals inquires are made for properties outside of the downtown and more in the county, he said, based on what he’s heard from local realtors.
A rental property is defined by the state as one occupied for 30 days or less. They are typically found through the websites Airbnb, Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO), and more.
The town has had five short-term rental properties that have been unregulated. The new ordinance would provide a level playing field for the properties as well as create a transient occupancy tax revenue stream for the town.
Among other changes proposed Tuesday night were having the ordinance applicable to the property owners, not property managers designated by the owners.
Previous changes to the proposed ordinance have included making the approval process for the short term rentals require a special use permit instead of being allowed “by-right.”
The ordinance stipulates that neighbors having any issue with the property would contact Strasburg Police, and any guest of a property having an issue, such as no hot water, would contact the property owner.
Planning Commission Chairman Bob Flanagan said he would like to see a revision to the ordinance brought back to the commission at its Aug. 24 meeting after another legal review. Another public hearing would be held afterward.