Log In

Reset Password

L. Towamensing OKs short-term rental ordinance

The Lower Towamensing Township supervisors passed both an amendment to the zoning ordinance to include short-term rental properties and a municipal ordinance about it at their meeting Tuesday night.

The amendment and ordinance have been in the works for about a year.

“I think we took a slow and steady approach,” said Supervisors’ Chairman Brent Green. “I’m hoping we can get a handle on some of the issues and hold people accountable for these types of uses.”

The changes go into effect in five days.

Owners who have been renting their property as short-term rentals in the areas where it is allowed will need to get a permit. For those outside of the area, they will need to either pursue a special exception through the Zoning Hearing Board or stop renting out the house as a short-term rentals, also known as vacation rentals.

The amendment to the zoning ordinance limits short-term rentals to residential properties in the low-density residential district (R-1) and the village commercial district (V-C).

Short-term rentals are not permitted in the rural conservation district (R-C) or any other zoning district in the township. About 80% of the township lies within the R-C district, and 10% to 15% of the properties lie within the districts permitting these rentals.

Green said he doesn’t think the supervisors will ever expand the area within the township that is permitted to have short-term rentals.

“It would be hard to regulate and control,” he said.

The township doesn’t have a police force to respond to problems quickly. Instead, they depend on the state police to handle issues, but their coverage area is large.

Green had said at the supervisors meeting in May that they chose the village commercial district because it is the township’s mixed-use commercial area and R1 because it does not impact other residential areas as much.

The municipal ordinance requires that:

• Only rooms intended to be bedrooms can be used as bedrooms, and only two people per room.

• The owner must apply for a short-term rental license every year at a cost of $1,055. This covers the cost of inspections. The application also must include a complete site plan, floor plan information about the sewage system, a copy of the deed, copies of the Carbon County hotel room excise tax certificate and current Pennsylvania sales and use tax license, and a current insurance policy with at least $1 million in liability insurance.

• No parking on public thoroughfares, no fireworks, no shooting of firearms, no music loud enough to go beyond the property limits, no illegal substances, no parties and no outdoor sleeping in recreation vehicles, campers or tents.

• The owner must have a 24-hour telephone number of a managing agency, agent or local contact for the property.

“I think it was a fair way of doing things,” said Steve Meining, a resident who voiced strong concern to the supervisors about short-term rentals. “It wasn’t 100% of what I wanted, but I think after a lot of back-and-forth negotiation it was fair. The key now is to make sure that anything that’s illegal either be brought into legality or get shut down.”

Meining said he is an advocate for the residents of the township and for peace and safety in the area.

“I don’t think we need short-term rentals scattered around hither and yonder throughout this beautiful township,” he said.