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Local leaders, legislators debate short-term rentals

Alex Doty • Jun 14, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Local leaders joined state Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Twp. and several of his legislative colleagues from Lansing on Monday for a roundtable discussion on proposed short-term rental legislation.

Lilly was joined by Reps. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance; Holly Hughes, R-Montague; and Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon. The state lawmakers met with elected officials from Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Norton Shores, North Muskegon and Whitehall at Grand Haven City Hall.

Lilly said he organized the meeting so communities could explain their process on governing short-term rentals to other lawmakers, including Sheppard, who introduced legislation in April to address the issue. 

House Bill 4503 would amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act and define short-term rentals as a residential use of a property. If approved, short-term rentals would be permitted in all residential zones of a community.

“It’s not often that a representative from the opposite side of the state will trek four hours to hear from communities outside their own,” Lilly said. “One of my main focuses in Lansing is to ensure that our community’s elected leaders’ voices are heard, and Rep. Sheppard helped make that possible.”

Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said: “We’re very much opposed to this legislation and we just wanted to let our state representative know how we felt.”

McGinnis said he and other area officials appreciated the state representatives’ visit.

“We really feel it’s a local issue and, in this instance, this would have a terrible, detrimental effect on Grand Haven if it were to pass,” he said of HB 4503.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Tourism & Outdoor Recreation, which Hughes chairs.

Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb stressed that short-term rental decisions need to be made locally.

“If you have to go to Lansing to express concerns about your neighborhood, that’s way too far removed,” she said.

McCaleb noted that this was the message that Grand Haven and other Lakeshore leaders shared with the legislators on Monday.

“(We) all spoke with the same voice saying everyone locally has different facts to work with and different decisions that they have,” she said. “You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach for short-term rentals decided in Lansing.”

According to McCaleb, the city has spent too much time and too much energy to create its own short-term rental ordinance to let Lansing reverse the local regulations.

“We need to stand our ground,” she said.

McCaleb said she plans to continue to reach out to state lawmakers about the bill, as well as similar legislation in the Michigan Senate, SB 329, which has been referred to that chamber’s Committee on Local Government.

“We need to keep on this and find out who the committee members are, and let them know how we feel about this,” McCaleb said.

Sheppard thanked Lilly for allowing him to meet and listen to Lakeshore community leaders.

“Having direct input from those who will be affected by this bill helps all of us have a better understanding of its impact,” he said.

Sheppard said he intends to work with colleagues on the bill throughout the summer to prepare it for movement in the fall.

“Seeing my colleagues travel to meet and have a collective conversation across party lines is refreshing, and shows their own commitment to their communities,” Lilly said. “My hope is that this will provide some value to the representatives in Lansing as they work on these bills and as they move through the legislative vetting process.”

 

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