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Polk OKs short-term rental ordinance

Polk Township supervisors approved a short-term rental ordinance Monday night. The ordinance regulates the types of properties that qualify as short-term rentals and what owners and renters can and cannot do.

Short-term rental units are typically used as vacation rentals. The ordinance applies to single-family houses where the owner intends to rent it for stays of 30 days or less.

“The (township’s) planning commission put a lot of work into this ordinance,” township solicitor James Fareri said. “The ordinance is not a reinvention of the wheel. It is based on a model ordinance drafted by the Monroe County Planning Commission.”

Only houses, or structures converted into dwelling units, sitting on 1 acre of ground or more can be used as short-term rentals, according to the township’s ordinance.

If the house meets those criteria, then the owner can apply for a permit that costs $300. It has to be renewed each year at a cost of $150 for the permit.

Additional requirements include:

• The owner must carry at least $500,000 in liability insurance on the short-term rental unit.

• There has to be someone in charge of the property that resides or has an office within 15 miles of the rental.

• Only spaces in a house designated on the floor plan as bedrooms can be used as bedrooms.

• Only two people are permitted per bedroom.

• The house cannot be advertised as having more sleeping area than what is allowed in total per each bedroom.

• The number of people visiting the property during the day cannot be more than 75% of the sleep occupancy total.

• Lawns, other vegetated areas or public streets cannot be used as the unit’s parking.

• If there is no sewage permit, then the house is limited to three bedrooms. If the house has five or more bedrooms, then the owner has to provide proof to the sewage enforcement officer that the septic system can handle the capacity.

• No fireworks are permitted on the premises.

The ordinance also mentions the need for safety items such as carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. A complete packet of information is available for owners wishing to apply for a permit.

“This is not a zoning ordinance,” Fareri said. “This is its own stand-alone ordinance.”

Brian Ahner, chairman of the supervisors, said he thinks it’s time for an ordinance like this, and Supervisor Carl Heckman asked when it would take effect. Fareri said it would go into effect immediately.

“And there would be no grandfathering of any kind? It applies to everyone?” Heckman asked.

“It applies to everyone,” Fareri replied.

The supervisors passed the ordinance unanimously.