Nantucket voters once again turned down short-term rental restrictions at the Special Town Meeting earlier this month, but that has not deterred citizens from bringing them back for next gathering of the island’s legislative body.
Short–term rental proposals will once again be on the warrant for the 2024 Annual Town Meeting, as several citizen petitions were submitted and certified over the past week. The hope is that these proposals will be simpler, easier to understand, and most importantly, touch on only those areas of the ongoing debate over short-term rentals where there is consensus.
Attorney Steven Cohen, working with the political action group Nantucket Together, has submitted two warrant articles that address corporate ownership of short-term rentals, and attempt to clarify the questions surrounding the legality of short-term rentals on the island due to the fact they are not explicitly allowed in the zoning code.
“I am working with Nantucket Together to provide the 2024 Town Meeting with a chance to vote on clean and simple short-term rental articles that essentially maintain the current and long-standing situation of allowing vacation rentals on Nantucket - as confirmed repeatedly by the Building Commissioner and the ZBA,” Cohen said in an email to the Current. “These articles also prohibit ownership of short-term rentals by corporations and provide for robust regulation of health, safety, and nuisance issues.”
Cohen’s zoning bylaw proposal would define a short-term rental in the Nantucket zoning code as a “dwelling unit or portion(s) thereof that is not a transient residential facility, where: (i) at least one room or dwelling unit is rented to an occupant or sub-occupant; and (ii) all accommodations are reserved in advance. Rental periods with a change in occupancy in excess of 31 calendar days shall not be considered a short-term rental. The rental of property for a total of 14 days or less in any calendar year shall not be considered a short-term rental.” His general bylaw proposal would prohibit corporate ownership of short-term rentals moving forward (while grandfathering existing corporate-owned STRs) and put the purview of regulation and monitoring under the Board of Health.
“Nantucket voted decades ago to limit hotels and to instead encourage the use of houses for summer visitors, which is why there are less than 1,000 hotel rooms on Nantucket and a vast majority of our visitors rent houses,” Cohen said. “Now is the time to make sure that those rules are updated to protect and serve our community.”
The other short-term rental proposal for the 2024 Annual Town Meeting was submitted by former Select Board member Michael Kopko.
At the Special Town Meeting earlier this month, Kopko urged voters to reject the Short-Term Rental Work Group’s two bylaw proposals, and come back with something more palatable and simpler. Like Cohen’s proposals, Kopko also seeks to address corporate ownership, but does not delve into the zoning issues.
Kopko’s citizen petition would prohibit corporate-owned short-term rentals, and only allow STRs in dwellings owned by a limited liability company (LLC) or trust if “every shareholder, partner, or member of the legal entity is a natural person, as established by documentation provided by the applicant at the time of registration.” His general bylaw proposal would also limit the number of short-term rentals allowed to be operated by one owner to two dwelling units.