City Council hosts first reading on rental ordinance

Alex Doty • Apr 11, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Grand Haven City Council held a first reading of proposed modifications to the city's short-term rental ordinance Monday night, the latest in a year-long process to try and institute new regulations.

After going late into the night, City Council approved first readings of the ordinance revisions shortly before 11:30 p.m. — the first step in a two-step process of approving new short-term rental rules rules.

The meeting follows council’s first glance at the city Planning Commission's recommended ordinance during a March 22 work session, when council gave planning staff direction to make some modifications to that recommendation.

"The changes we made were to not allow any short-term rentals in the North Shore district, to allow new short-term rentals on key streets in Old Towne and to allow new short-term rentals in the South Side on key streets," Grand Haven Community Development Manager Jennifer Howland said. "We also made changes to the special use regulations to give the Planning Commission more flexibility.”

The ordinance revisions also added language to clarify that a short-term rental is a commercial or quasi-commercial use.

Further changes discussed by City Council at Monday night's meeting would be to allow only new short-term rentals as a special use on Franklin Avenue, west of Fifth Street, as a special use; and also some discussion about introducing caps in the districts — a proposal that wasn’t fully supported by City Council.

Overall, including the South Side and Old Towne districts, the Dune Residential district would also allow short-term rentals as a special use. No new short-term rentals would be allowed in the North Shore district.

Also during the meeting, several South Side residents voiced their concerns about allowing any new short-term rentals in the district.

"We worked hard with the Planning Commission and they finally came around and said, 'No more short-term rentals' (in the South Side)," resident Sue Silverman said. "When they said no more short-term rentals, that doesn't mean one more or two more."

Silverman said she thought the city would open up a domino effect if they allowed the short-term rentals on key streets in the district.

"I also agree that we also have enough," South Side resident Diane Steggerda said. "My house is the last house on my side of the street that I live in all year long."

City Council could vote on final short-term rental rule changes as soon as its Monday, April 24 meeting.

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