Letter: Nantucket Advisory Committee of Non-Voting Taxpayers On Short-Term Rentals

This letter was originally sent to the Select Board by Gary Beller, Chair of the Nantucket Advisory Committee of Non-Voting Taxpayers

To the editor: We thought it important that you receive the considered advice of our Committee, representing the non-voting taxpayers’ view of the significant impact that passage of some of the Short Term Rental (“STR”) Articles to be voted upon at the May 2nd Annual Town Meeting would have on our constituency.

At the February 26 Public Meeting of the Advisory Committee of Non-Voting Taxpayers (ACNVT), the Committee was updated by members of Town Administration on the proposals relating to Short Term Rentals that are contained in the Warrant , proposals that were recently discussed by the Select Board at its meeting of February 23. No action was taken by the Select Board on the proposals at that meeting.

Recognizing that there are no current limitations on homeowners’ ability to engage in Short term Rental activity, we believe that the Planning Department’s proposals are a rational first step to create a framework for appropriate regulation founded upon the data that will be, but is not currently being collected in any form. It is thought that data will inform future requirements and/or limitations. The Planning Department proposals would also enable funding covering costs of administration.

The ACNVT believes that Article 43 is illegal as drafted and presented because it discriminates between voting and non-voting residents. Such discrimination in Zoning Law based upon ownership of real property is clearly illegal in Massachusetts. According to Town Counsel, “The bylaw treats primary residences and non-resident properties differently.” As such, the zoning bylaw is likely to be subject to disapproval by the Attorney General.

We assume that no member of the Select Board would vote to endorse any such proposal that is so divisive and that improperly discriminates against any portion of its constituents. Accordingly, The ACNVT members approved the following resolution:

Resolved: The ACNVT endorses the Short Term Rental proposals prepared by the Town’s planning department (Articles 39,40,41 and 42) included in the Warrant and subsequently voted favorably by the Town’s Planning Board and the Town’s Finance Committee. The ACNVT finds Article 43 to be clearly discriminatory against members of our taxpaying community and impermissible. The ACNVT accordingly requests that the Select Board consider our views when making its determination on the above articles.

Gary Beller
Chair, Advisory Committee of Non-Voting Taxpayers

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