The Georgetown Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved a three-month moratorium on new short-term rental licenses to allow the town time to seek feedback from the public and revise its STR licensing program.
To that end, the board will host a work session on Sept. 1 when owners and neighbors can offer their insight and opinions about the town’s program.
During an Aug. 11 meeting, the selectmen decided a work session akin to a town hall meeting would be better than forming a committee to evaluate the program’s status and shortcomings.
The topic resurfaced last month when a local couple appealed their neighbor’s license, saying there were too many rentals too close to each other in Ward I. Multiple neighbors, including those who supported the licensee, also said density was a problem.
While the board sustained the license, the selectmen agreed it was time to revisit its STR licensing program.
According to Town Administrator Kent Brown, the program was adopted in 2016, started in 2017 and was revised in 2018. One key limitation, he noted, is that rentals can make up no more than 7 percent of the residences in each ward.
Currently, Georgetown has 49 licensees with waiting lists for Ward I and Ward III.
While Brown envisioned a committee to iron out the issues, the selectmen agreed that it would be best addressed by the board as a whole, rather than a committee, and by allowing all interested parties to speak on the issue.
Selectman Jon Jennings, who was on the board when it first addressed STRs, said he felt the process ran smoother because the selectmen tackled the issue together.
“It’s a big issue; people get really involved in this,” he said. “… We had lots of public comment the last time.”
Selectman Rob Connell agreed there will likely be a high level of public interest and feedback on the topic, adding that whatever action the board takes likely won’t please everyone.
“Boy, this issue takes the ‘unity’ out of ‘community,’” he continued. “It brings out the worst in people.”
Issues to be considered are limits on how close STRs can be to each other, the impact rentals have on neighborhoods, traffic, safety, and how long after buying a residence a homeowner could apply for an STR license. A one-year waiting period, for instance, would help prevent people from buying properties simply to lease them as STRs, Brown said.
The selectmen agreed that a moratorium would show residents that the town is taking the issue seriously and to ensure that no new licenses are issued until everything has been ironed out, as Selectman Keith Holmes said.
Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-567-4491 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.