Newburyport Reviews Short Term Rental Rules | New

NEWBURYPORT – City councilors are getting closer to a vote on short-term rental rules following a joint meeting on Wednesday of the Planning and Development Committee and the Licensing and Permitting Committee.

There are two proposed ordinances before city council – including a general ordinance establishing procedures for people to register short-term rentals in the city, which is currently under review by the Licenses and Permits Committee.

The other is a zoning amendment that would allow short-term rentals in specified areas of the city. This amendment is currently under consideration by the Planning and Development Committee.

Both proposals were presented in January 2020 and co-sponsored by Ward 5 Councilor Jim McCauley and General Councilor Charlie Tontar.

There are over 200 short term rentals in Newburyport, but nothing in the city ordinance actually regulates them.

These regulations would require short-term rental landlords – excluding those on Plum Island – to reside in their homes for at least 183 days a year. The main use of the dwelling must be single-family, two-family or multi-family; and guests could stay up to 31 days.

The ordinances would establish a procedure for people to apply for registration of their units. They would also dictate rules to be applied.

Two of the biggest complaints about short-term rentals in the city are parking issues and the lack of owners to monitor their units, especially when complaints of noise and other issues arise with their guests.

Councilors spent nearly two years tweaking them and debating the language restriction in the regulations. KP Law, the firm that acts as municipal attorney, provided legal advice throughout the process.

Council Chairman Jared Eigerman, who represents Ward 2 and sits on the Planning and Development Committee, recommended an amendment to the proposed zoning ordinance, saying special permits should be applicant-specific, not property specific. .

This means that if someone gets a special permit to offer a short term rental on their property and the property is then sold, the permit does not automatically go to the buyer. Instead, the special permit stays with the original applicant. He also suggested that special permits expire after three years.

The two committees agreed they needed at least one more meeting before sending the ordinances to council for a vote.

Ward 6 Councilor Byron Lane, who sits on the Licensing and Permitting Committee, asked how restrictive these ordinances would be and whether the city ultimately sought to get rid of short-term rentals offered through services such as Airbnb.

“It’s actually less restrictive than it could be,” McCauley said, noting that the city currently has no restrictions in place.

“It’s the attempt to put a structure in there,” he said.

One of the ongoing discussions about these orders is which body would oversee the application process for short-term rental units.

The current proposal is to have the Zoning Appeal Board as the special permitting authority, but there are still many questions about what the role of the board would look like.

Zoning Board Chairman Rob Ciampitti, Vice Chairman Mark Moore and Member Ken Swanton each spoke at the meeting on Wednesday, calling for clear standards to be set on how the board would review permit applications.

“It is important for us to know what is the paradigm under which we should evaluate each of these applications so that we can create a standard, reliable, credible and consistent exam model? Ciampitti said, explaining that all applicants should be viewed with the same metrics.

Journalist Heather Alterisio can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.