Charlotte neighbors want action on rentals

SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Writer

At least three residents of Hills Point Road, which is just north of the Town Beach, came to the Charlotte Selectboard on Monday seeking a solution to problems with short-term rentals.

Resident Mike Wool said among the problems are speeding cars to the rentals while his grandchildren are playing in the yard or large quantities of cigarette butts left on the road because smoking isn’t allowed in a rental house.

One solution discussed: Require short-term rentals to be not-so-short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals are often referred to as “Airbnbs” after the popular online marketing firm for such rentals.

Asheville, N.C., has a requirement that the minimum length for a rental is three months to preserve the integrity of neighborhoods of single-family homes, Wool said. Some communities, including San Francisco and Boulder, Colo., have 30-day minimums, he said.

“We’re in a single-family residential zone and what happens is you end up with a transient neighborhood, you end up with noise, you end up with a nuisance,” he said. “It’s a safety issue.”

Wool said they had raised this issue with the planning commission in 2017 and “the ball was going to be kicked over to the selectboard and nothing really happened.”

Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz said, “Most the regulations that I’ve read seem to be centered around how to collect fees.”

Balancing property rights

“It’s a difficult balance between property rights and what you can do with your property as an owner and the balance in terms of maintaining the integrity of a neighborhood,” said Wool.

He said one of the houses on Hills Point Road rents for $1,500 a night and the renters cover the cost by having as many as four families, he’s counted eight cars at one house.

Two years ago, one of his neighbors – a single woman with two kids – had a renter from a nearby home show up at her front door at 3 a.m. drunk and he propositioned her, Wool said.

“Most of the septic systems on Hills Point are fragile,” Wool said. “When you get 15 or 16 people at one time, it has an impact.”

He said that he wasn’t threatening the selectboard, but people in communities with short-term rental problems have appealed their property taxes on the grounds of “diminution of value based upon the degradation of your property because a single-family has become what’s akin to a commercial zone.”

Selectboard member Louise McCarren asked what “a good ordinance would look like,” and Wool said that limiting the number of days is “the key.”

A lot of towns are restricting property owners to having only one short-term rental, said neighborhood resident Krissi Najarian.

The board asked Town Administrator Dean Bloch to gather some information and examples of other towns’ ordinances, possibly including Asheville, N.C.

Wool said that if Charlotte does develop an ordinance governing short-term rentals, it would probably bring recognition to the town as one of the first in Vermont to tackle the issue.

In other business

• Peter DeGraff of Otter Creek Engineering came to the meeting with three members of the Thompson Point Association with the news that the existing buildings housing their water systems storage tanks and pump are badly deteriorated. They asked permission to apply for a zoning permit to build one building to house a new pump system, water storage tanks and filtration system. The selectboard approved their request by a 4-0 vote. Matt Krasnow was absent for this meeting.

• The selectboard postponed consideration of the Recreation Commission mission statement, one of the first items on their agenda, and instead started their meeting by going into an executive session to consider a personnel issue.

• The selectboard voted 4-0 to accept Dubois & King’s bid of $68,000 for engineering on the portion of Monkton Road where the shoulder is collapsing.

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