NLWC: Vote No On Article 59

William Willet, Lucy Dillon, David Troast, and Matthew Liddle •

To the editor: The Nantucket Land and Water Council (NLWC) has been working to preserve the health of Nantucket’s environment and community through the protection of our land and water resources since 1974. We do this by performing ongoing advocacy; providing education; investing in scientific research, developing beneficial programs, and when necessary, taking legal action to protect our island’s precious natural resources. We are and have been the island’s trusted environmental advocate for over 50 years.

The NLWC has observed that the rise of the commercial short-term rental (STR) industry contributes to and incentivizes an intense (re)development of properties on Nantucket designed to deliver the highest rate of return. This is often accomplished by maximizing properties with buildings, bedrooms and amenities intended to meet the expectations of prospective occupants. This decreases open space and habitat in neighborhoods, escalates the intensity of use, and puts increasing pressure on the island’s resources jeopardizing the health of our drinking water, ponds and harbors, and our shared infrastructure such as solid waste and storm-water management, water and sewer.

Article 59 is identical to the previously defeated Article 42 at the 2022 ATM and Article 2 at the 2023 STM. This article MUST BE DEFEATED because it would legalize unlimited commercial STRs as a primary use for houses in all our residential districts across the island. If this right is granted under zoning it cannot be taken away and could open up the floodgates for STR investment. Allowing commercial STRs in residential districts would have long-term adverse, and potentially irreversible impacts on our environment and the health of our community. Moreover, recent court rulings have confirmed that STRs are a commercial use that is not legal in residential districts.

NLWC supports allowing STRs as an accessory use in residential districts protecting residents’ ability to rent their homes so long as they are using it primarily as a residence. NLWC would support balanced bylaw proposals that reasonably limit STRs to Nantucket residents, ensure effective regulation by our town government, and are consistent with our local traditions. NLWC opposes STRs for commercial or investment purposes.

The commercial short-term rental industry, if unchecked, threatens to irreparably harm our island’s environment and therefore our community’s vitality, health and quality of life. Obviously, this is an outcome that we all want to prevent.

If maintaining a healthy environment, community and quality of life on Nantucket is important to you, please attend Town Meeting and vote a resounding NO on Article 59.


William Willet, Lucy Dillon, David Troast, and Matthew Liddle
On behalf of the Nantucket Land & Water Council

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