City extends short-term rental freeze

Alex Doty • Jan 4, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Grand Haven officials have agreed to extend a moratorium on new short-term rental applications within the city.

This past October, City Council approved a four-month short-term rental application moratorium intended to allow the city’s Short-Term Rental Housing Committee, Planning Commission and City Council time to draft possible changes to the city’s short-term rental ordinance.

“There’s still considerable work to be done,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “There’s no way we can make that Feb. 3 deadline.”

The extension is good through May 1, but expires early if any short-term rental ordinance amendments are adopted.

The extension also includes some changes from the original moratorium, McGinnis said.

One change is that the moratorium excludes residential districts not traditionally known for single-family residential: the central business, waterfront 2 and planned development districts.

The extension also allows city staff to review, accept and process applications for short-term rental certificates for units that were purchased after Jan. 1, 2016.

McGinnis said applicants must show their property was purchased for short-term rental use, and they must have invested at least $10,000 in improvements to the property to make it suitable to become a short-term rental. 

This change is a welcomed addition for some on City Council.

“When we adopted the moratorium, a number of us were aware and concerned that there were active investors in the process of purchasing a home to rent on a short-term basis,” Councilman Josh Brugger said.

Brugger noted that original moratorium language — which included some provisions for grandfathering recent purchases for short-term rentals — was an OK effort, but he said he’s pleased to see an expansion of the language and some additional criteria.

City Council has also set a date for when it would like to see a draft amendment from the Planning Commission.

“This gives the City Council a request to the Planning Commission that they get something to City Council no later than the April 17 City Council meeting,” McGinnis said.

The city’s short-term rental talks began in April 2016, when the city established a Short-Term Rental Housing Committee that is tasked with reviewing current short-term rental regulations put in place in 2008, discussing how the program has affected zoning districts where the use is permitted, and making future policy recommendations to City Council.

“The length of time they’ve been working on this shows how complicated it is,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said. “It shows the complexity of how do you deal with these issues.”


While the mayor said short-term rentals are an amazing addition to a resort community like Grand Haven, there needs to be limits.


The short-term rental debate isn’t exclusive to the city. 

“It’s communities all up and down the lakeshore,” McCaleb noted.

The Spring Lake Township Board last month approved short-term rental restrictions, which limit homeowners to 14 days of rental in no more than two separate periods. No more than 12 people will be allowed in the house, and the landlord must be reachable and able to respond to requests for help from the renters within three hours.

Elected officials in Ferrysburg also plan to discuss the possibility of short-term rental ordinance changes.

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