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Vote on amendments to short-term rental ordinance delayed, moved to workshop

The Town Council on July 13, 2020 voted unanimously to send proposed Short-Term Rental Amendments to the July 20 Town Council workshop for further discussion.  Chair Valerie Adams shared that the Town Council had received numerous emails from community members both in favor and opposed to the proposed amendments.  Several citizens also commented during the public-comment portion of the Zoom Video conference with opposing views. 

On May 11, 2020 the Town Council referred to workshop proposed revisions to the zoning ordinance relating to short-term rentals as recommended by the Ordinance Committee. Subsequent workshops were held on June 1 and June 18.  Proposed amendments stemming from these meetings were presented to the Town Council in hopes that the recommendations would be forwarded to the Planning Board for their review. 

Councilor Chris Straw argued that some of the proposed changes are not in compliance with the adopted Town Comprehensive Plan and therefore possibly not in compliance with state laws.  Town Planner Maureen O'Meara offered that the Town Comprehensive Plan only dictates the number of people who can get permits and offers little more guidance.  O'Meara shared that the proposed amendments "strive to put the town in the best legal position possible" and that the recommended changes focus on primary residences and remove limiting the number of permits.  Furthermore, O'Meara responded that while it is unusual, adopting amendments to Comprehensive Plans is not unique.  Any potential amendments would be subject to public hearings and Town Council approval.

Given that many of the Town Councilors had more questions concerning the proposed amendment, councilors concluded that they needed to further discuss the changes during the next workshop.  "What we send to the Planning Board," stated Councilor Penny Jordan, "should be what we want to go forward."