October 8 2020

Town Meeting Approves Prohibition on Short-Term Rentals

By: Rich Hosford

Short-term house or apartment rentals with stays than less than a month are now prohibited in Burlington.

Town Meeting voted to both add a definition of short-term rentals to the Zoning Bylaw Use Table and then prohibit the, at least for the time being, during Monday night’s session.

The warrant article was came from the Planning Board through the Board of Selectmen. Planning Director Kristin Kastner said prohibiting short-term rentals of 28 days or fewer was not the initial plan but due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic they thought it was the prudent thing to do.

“This was not the direction we necessarily were going in when we started this conversion, we knew we had to define them to properly regulate them and there were talks of where to allow them and where not to allow them,” she said of the ban of their use. “What has happened over the last couple of months has exacerbated concern over short-term rentals both in Burlington and across the country. We’re seeing a lot of short-term rentals not for the family going to the lake for a week, we’ve seen them used for weekend parties. The state of emergency has pushed people to do a lot of interesting things. We did have conversations with the police department about their concerns.”

The definition added to the bylaws is as follows:

“The use of a Residential Unit for residential occupancy by a person or persons for a period of fewer than twentyeight consecutive calendar days for a fee. A Short-Term Rental may or may not be facilitated through a Booking Agent. A Short-Term rental is a property that is not a hotel, motel, lodging house or bed and breakfast establishment, where at leaest on room or unit is rented. A Short-Term rental includes but is not limited to an apartment, house, cottage, condominium or other accomodation.”

Kassner said the other part of the vote was to prohibit them as a primary or accessory use.

Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heureux said many residents would join their meetings when this was discussed and most were against these types of rental situations.

“The bulk of people were expressing concerns of short-term rentals due to parties,” she said. “But people also concern about frequent change-overs - felt unsafe for their neighborhood and not really like the residential neighborhood we have all come to love. Parties were the recent concern but were not only concern.”

Kassner said that when the pandemic is over it is possible they could take another look at short-term rentals and see if there are places in town they could be allowed.

“This doesn’t mean we can’t revisit in the future, we should discuss general bylaws if we want to reconsider short-term rentals in the future,” she said.

But for now, at least, she said the idea is to limit residential neighborhoods to residential uses.

“The state has recognized them as a commercial use and we want to preserve residential neighborhoods for residential uses,” she explained.

Town Meeting voted to define short-term rentals and prohibit them by a vote of 79-12, meeting the two-third requirement.



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