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Weissport to adopt a short-term rental ordinance

Like many other municipalities in the area, Weissport is looking at adopting an ordinance that would give the borough control over burgeoning short-term rental businesses such as Air­bnb.

An Airbnb host can offer locations such as rooms in their homes, cabins and guest homes to rent for short-term stays. Bookings are handled via the Airbnb website. Hosts can make a sizable income, depending on location and how often they can get bookings. While there are many positive aspects of starting such a venture, there have been some negative aspects as well, such as unruly guests, noise issues and trash.

Council member James Osborne met with state Rep. Doyle Heffley, who suggested that the short-term rentals are good for the community, but the borough needs to regulate them. Heffley used, as an example, Monroe County’s ordinance.

Referring to Monroe County’s ordinance, Osborne explained, “what they do is they charge the B&B a $100 permit per year to operate. The tenants who are staying there have certain responsibilities, what they can or can’t do. The owners must have someone on call who can be at the property in about 30 minutes if there’s a problem. There are other aspects of the ordinance. For example, the property has to be inspected every so often, there’s a noise ordinance; the ordinance is a good one. Heffley said if we adopt something like that, that will control the B&Bs.”

Osborne distributed copies of Monroe County’s ordinance, which he suggested would be a good basis to form their own ordinance, making whatever changes are needed to meet Weissport’s needs. The short-term rental ordinance would be an amendment to the borough’s zoning ordinance. Council members will read through the paperwork and decide what changes need to be made, and will adopt the updated ordinance at a future meeting.

Zoning, code enforcement

Council voted to hire Barry Isett & Associates, Inc. to handle all the zoning, code enforcement, and flood plain management issues for the borough. Borough President Arland Moyer and Osborne met with representatives of Isett to go over the contract.

“They suggested we get our four highest priority zoning issues for them to start,” Moyer said. “After that, they will work on an as-needed basis. Their rate is $75 per hour.”

Isett’s main office is on Route 100 in Allentown, and operates locally, handling zoning issues for local communities such as Lehighton and Jim Thorpe.

Garbage and taxes

The tax collector’s report indicates they collected $1,232.23 for garbage in July, bringing the total collected for the year to $47,451.83. In July, $1,938.72 in taxes were collected, bringing that total to $51.360.96 for 2021.

In related news, Moyer told the council that as of now, a balance of $6,312.19 remains in unpaid garbage bills. That is down from the over $50,000 when they started working on collecting the funds.

Other business

Council also voted to:

• Appoint borough secretary Jennifer Ketchledge administrator of the System for Award Management program. SAM is a free governmentwide registry for vendors doing business with the federal government which replaced Centralized Contractor Registration. A SAM number is also required to receive any federal grants, such as funds from the American Recovery Act. Weissport’s SAM number had expired in 2011.

• Give Moyer up to $200 to purchase eight new chain saw chains for the four saws owned by the borough for cutting the tree branches in the borough park.

• Give Councilman Tom Ketchledge authority to purchase two safety harnesses at $94 each and two tethers at $92 each to be used as they trim the trees in the borough park, and for future projects where needed. Council has rented a mobile hydraulic lift from the Service Team to use to trim dead branches from the trees in the park.

• Give Moyer up to $200 to purchase a small blower to use on the borough sidewalks and in the park.