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Eldred Twp. approves short-term rental ordinances

The Eldred Township supervisors approved two new ordinances governing short-term rentals, often called vacation rental homes.

Ordinance 2020-04 falls under the township’s zoning ordinances. It defines short-term rentals as being a dwelling unit rented for 30 days or less for the purpose of overnight lodging. This definition meets places in a similar category to “hotel” for the purpose of imposing an excise tax by Monroe County.

The ordinance also specifies that a short-term rental cannot be located in the residential district or the industrial district. It can be located in a rural resource district, agricultural/residential district or a commercial district.

The ordinance recognizes that short-term rentals expand lodging options for the public, and provides income to the owner. But it also notes that although many short-term rentals occur without a problem, sometimes problems arise.

“Short-term rentals have resulted in excessive noise, parking, litter and also triggered concerns regarding septic capabilities, security, public safety and trespass,” the ordinance states. It says that the purpose of the ordinance is “to prevent such land use from (i) becoming a burden on township and community services, and (ii) negatively impacting residential neighborhoods in which they are located.”

Ordinance 2020-05 is a companion ordinance within the township’s code. It governs the short-term rental agreements by providing a system of permits, property standards, inspections, enforcement and penalties for violations. Township solicitor Michael Gaul said it reflects similar ordinances adopted in Monroe County.

“This is a pretty comprehensive ordinance,” he said. “It’s something the Planning Commission discussed over a year.”

Robert Boileau, the chairman of the Planning Commission, said nothing in the county has happened to warrant the ordinance, but there have been problems in other area municipalities.

“Within the county, we’ve certainly seen abuses of short-term rentals. We just thought now the time was the right, although we did not have a specific need,” he said. “We didn’t know of any specific issue where there were any major problems. But in light of what was happening in other places, we thought some protection would be a good thing to have.”

Owners of houses that do qualify under the definition in the ordinance must get a permit from the township. The permit costs $250 for the first year and $100 per year after that. Additional requirements on the property include:

• The name, address, telephone number and email address of the owner, managing agency, agent or local contact person that can be contacted 24 hours a day must be available to renters within the property.

• The contact person must be available within a 20-mile radius of the property.

• The floor plan has to show the location of the smoke alarms, bedrooms, habitable floor space and evacuation plan.

• No more than three people per bedroom.

• Parking must be on the property in designated parking spots, not on public streets.

• Fireworks and floating lanterns are prohibited.

• All adjacent properties have to be notified that the house is a rental unit.

• Proof of liability insurance not less that $1 million per occurrence, and several additional requirements.

Supervisors’ Chairman Gary Hoffman said, “A lot of work went into this document by the planning commission.”

Owners of rental houses that do not rent it out more than twice or more than 14 days in a calendar year are exempt from the ordinance.