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Short-term rental restrictions proposed

Becky Vargo • Nov 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash says it’s time to get some regulations in place to address concerns about short-term rentals.

The situation became an issue with the recent popularity of online rental programs such as Airbnb and complaints about some locations in the township being rented to visitors.

The Township Board has decided not to encourage short-term rentals in residential areas, Nash said during a board meeting Monday night. An ordinance revision will give township officials “a vehicle to deal with concerns,” he said.

A vote on the ordinance change is likely at the board’s December meeting.

Following a comment session in which two people talked about the issue, Nash told the residents in the full, but not packed, Barber School board room that homeowners in the township’s R-1 and R-2 zoning districts would be allowed just two weeks to rent out their homes each year, according to the proposed ordinance.

“Anything beyond that would have to be 25 days or more,” Nash said.

There will be no subletting and no grandfathering, he emphasized.

This is completely different than long-term rental regulations, the supervisor said.

Nash said the ordinance change is not meant to be a witch hunt, but that township officials want something in place “so if we have a problem, we can deal with it.”

The Township Board has been looking at the situation since April. Township officials have checked with other communities to see how they are handling short-term rentals. 

Township resident Anne McLaughlin was one of the people who spoke in opposition to short-term rentals at Monday’s board meeting. She lives near a short-term rental property on Lovell Road, which has been the topic of some complaints.

"As you know, we have been gathering signatures on a petition requesting that the township enforce the existing zoning laws and stop short-term vacation rentals in R-1 single-family residential neighborhoods,” McLaughlin said to the board. “We currently have 272 signatures. We delivered the first set of signatures to you at your September meeting and are delivering another set of signatures this evening."

Lovell Road neighbors at the previous forum on Nov. 1 described 20 tenants converging on the home in question with luggage, tents, outdoor movie screens and watercraft. They complained of parties, noise from morning to late at night, balls rolling into their yards, and trash.

One resident noted that the house was listed online for a 20-person occupancy and eight cars, and charges $7,500 a week.

Nash said a $25 fine — as allowed under current ordinance language — is hardly a deterrent to this kind of activity.

If approved, the ordinance will be reviewed after one year, he said.

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