Grandfathering Under Article 59 Unfair To Homeowners

Carl Jelleme •

To the editor: One of the provisions that was suggested in a proposed warrant article to regulate short-term rentals (STRs) at a recent Select Board meeting was grandfathering, which would allow all pre-existing non-conforming use. Any STR article that includes grandfathering rewards owners who have been operating commercial enterprises in violation of the zoning laws – that is, those properties that are primarily used as STRs.

Not only does it reward them, but it also creates a scarcity value. At the same time, it discriminates against long-time, year-round, and seasonal homeowners, who haven't rented in the past. Additionally, it punishes those people who are unfortunate enough to live next to commercial STRs. And, finally, it represents commercial competition for Nantucket homeowners who are trying to rent in the Nantucket tradition to offset some of the cost of ownership.

Article 59 is very dangerous and threatens the Nantucket community. In response to Mr. Cohen’s assertion that voters could go back and restrict STRs after the passage of Article 59, John Giorigo, Town Counsel, replied, “From a zoning perspective, if his article were to pass, then short-term rentals would essentially be allowed as a principal use. If at a future Town Meeting you wanted to amend the zoning bylaw, for example, to make it an accessory use, we would run into issues in terms of what are legally protected prior non-conforming uses. Because individuals who claim to be legally prior non-conforming to whatever the new accessory use bylaw is would have to demonstrate that they used the property during that interim period of time as a principal short-term rental use.”

In other words, people should know that Article 59 would essentially grandfather all commercial STRs. Any proposal that is considered needs to put homeowners before commercial interests.

Grandfathering is fundamentally unfair to everyone but commercial interests.


Carl Jelleme

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