To the editor,
On September 11, the Planning Board voted to recommend a Zoning Amendment that would permanently allow STRs as the primary or exclusive use of any property across the Island. In other words if Article 2 passes, any home, anywhere, could become a full-time STR. That’s alarming because Nantucket already has nearly 2,500 STRs registered with the State, a 38 percent increase in two years (these figures are from the workgroup’s consultant). At this rate, close to half the homes on Nantucket will be STRs in five years, and a good portion will be full-time investor STRs.
Article 2, part of the STR workgroup proposal, is designed to protect commercial STR investors, making it harder for people to live and work here. Why aren’t we protecting the island’s real engine, the people who live and work here, and who are vital to our community and economy?
Some workgroup members believe that allowing full-time STRs through zoning is OK because of the attached regulations in Article 1, a General Bylaw that would give existing STRs (including corporate STRs) more leeway than homeowners who may want to STR in the future. In a recent article in the Current, the Town’s Health Director, responsible for overseeing the STR licensing program, stated that the complicated regulations in Article 1 are unenforceable. The reality is that Article 1 won’t prevent what is proposed in the zoning change in Article 2: to allow any property across the island to turn into a full-time STR now or in the future.
Article 2 is exactly what commercial STR real estate development interests want. And it’s precisely what the Planning Board brought to voters at the 2022 Town Meeting (Article 42) that led to the creation of the workgroup.
In a public comment during the recent Planning Board meeting, Linda Williams made it clear that those who want full-time STRs everywhere without regulations will push hard to pass the zoning article in Article 2 - this would spell disaster for Nantucket and its community.
The Finance Committee will discuss the STR workgroup proposal this Thursday, September 21 at 4 p.m. at 4 Fairgrounds Rd.
Every island resident should be concerned about this issue and attend the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, November 7. Please mark your calendars and come vote to protect our local community.