On Short-Term Rentals, Let's Get Back To Basics

Penny Dey •

To the editor: Nantucket is a popular place with a tourism-based economy and a long history of people renting homes in the summer months. Houses are built to be occupied and will be occupied during the season by someone – by the owner, family and friends or visiting vacationers. It is a fallacy that limiting properties that rent will somehow reduce the population of Nantucket during the season.

Included among the bundle of property rights in this country is the right to rent one’s home, whether it is for a long term or a shorter term. This right exists until it is taken away or modified. To say that rentals of any kind are “illegal” on Nantucket is simply not true. How is it possible for the state to be taxing rentals and the Town to be regulating rentals if they are not a legal use? If short-term rentals are illegal under our zoning by-law, then so are all rentals.

As a community we need to be very clear about the long-term ramifications of what we decide at the Annual Town Meeting. Articles 59, 60 and 61, all zoning articles related to short-term vacation rentals, each require a majority vote of 2/3 to pass. Town counsel informed the community at the most recent Select Board meeting that Article 60 (Emmy Kilvert, sponsor) is deficient in form, dangerous in implementation and will have major unintended consequences. Town leadership is asking the community to wait until the Short Term Rental Work Group has an opportunity to finish their work and present recommendations at the November 7th Special Town Meeting. What is not being broadly discussed is what would happen if Articles 59 and 61 (Linda Williams, sponsor) were to pass at ATM. If passed, they would stop the lawsuits brought by neighbors against neighbors but would not impede the ability of the STRWG to finish their job.

See you at Town Meeting which starts at 8:30 AM on Saturday, May 6th at the Nantucket High School Auditorium.

Penny Dey
Warren Street

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