Do Article 60 Proponents Have No Shame?

Robert Friedmann •

To the editor: Do the proponents of article 60 have no shame? With the most recent mass mailing they continue their campaign of lies, and misrepresentation through omission of facts.

Short term rentals are not illegal on Nantucket. In fact, they are fundamental to our local economy and have been for decades. They are not contemplated in our zoning bylaws - that is correct. People are quick to cite past decisions in other municipalities that affect STRs. We need to remember that each municipality in the state has its own unique set of circumstances and zoning bylaws. What is not allowed in one town isn’t necessarily prohibited in another and for good reason.

In the spirit of Article 60 many locally-owned properties such as the Corkish cottages, that have a long history of renting to vacationers, would not be allowed to continue renting if Article 60 passed. This is just one example of the widespread impact of Article 60. There is a much more far-reaching consequence that the proponents are not telling the public.

At its core Article 60 is a zoning article. Zoning changes by nature have a component built in to protect people’s property rights by allowing a continuation of the use that was engaged in before that bylaw is changed. Pre-existing and nonconforming uses are more commonly known as grandfathering. How this applies to 60 is where the rubber meets the road. When you are grandfathered through zoning by laws you have a right to continue that use in perpetuity or until the owner has abandoned that use for a period of three years. No town bylaw or zoning bylaw change can affect that right.

In the case of 60 all existing STRs will be grandfathered. They will say it’s an illegal use and therefore can not be grandfathered. Let’s add some common sense to that argument. The state is currently regulating and taxing STRs, the towns are regulating them. Does this sound like an illegal activity? This won’t stop at existing STRs if 60 is passed. People will scramble to establish their properties as STRs and those will also be grandfathered in perpetuity. Show me a homeowner that wouldn’t do this just to protect their property values and rights.

In the end 60 accomplishes nothing that the proponents claim. It will leave us with more STRs than ever. It will cripple our ability to regulate them in any meaningful way. STRS will be solidified as a use that cannot be taken away.

Vote no on 60.

Robert Friedmann

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