To the editor: The issue of Short-Term Rentals (STRs) is a crucial one for Nantucket. Thank you to the members of the Short-Term Rental Workgroup (STRWG) for the October 17, 2023 FAQs. They provide a reasonable explanation of Articles 1 and 2 as presented by the Finance Committee and Planning Board motion. They didn’t explain the differences between the Select Board (SB) version, the first one printed in the warrant, which was adopted by the SB working closely with the STRWG and town counsel. It differs in a couple crucial ways from the Finance Committee-Planning Board motion. It is important people understand the differences.
The SB version does not require both Articles 1 and 2 to be voted as a bundle. The SB removed this linkage language to give the General Bylaw, Article 1, its best chance of passing. The SB article also defines pre-existing properties as those that have rented short-term, as opposed to every building on-island with a certificate of occupancy. This simplifies the enforcement burden, and lessens the incentive to convert existing year-round or workforce housing to STR use.
Please support the Select Board version of the General Bylaw Article 1. If it is not adopted, and the Finance Committee-Planning Board version is presented, please vote it down.
No matter how you vote on Article 1, please oppose the Zoning Bylaw, Article 2. Don’t open the barn door. Once we vote STRs as a primary use in every dwelling on-island, we can never go back. Individuals and corporations will challenge the General Bylaw at future town meetings as well as in court litigation, and if they prevail, with zoning protection removed, the door to the full commercialization of Nantucket will be permanently nailed open.
Instead, we can and should define STR as an accessory use. The STRWG proposal of four rentals peak season is genius. It is a fair place to start and aligns closely with historical use. John Giorgio, Dave Iverson, and myself were working on an accessory use path, but unfortunately ran out of time.
Please attend Special Town meeting November 7, to support the Select Board version of Article 1, defeat Article 2, and provide direction for town staff, committees and boards to return with an accessory use zoning article for Annual Town Meeting.