Planning Board Endorses Short-Term Rental Bylaws

This map shows the locations, marked by purple dots, of all 2,241 short-term rental properties on Nantucket that have registered with the state. 

After a nearly four-hour public hearing, the Nantucket Planning Board voted 3-1 on Monday to endorse a proposed zoning bylaw amendment at this year’s Town Meeting that would codify and legalize short-term rentals in all zoning districts.

The board’s recommendation is contingent upon the passage of a companion warrant article that would regulate short-term rentals with requirements for local registration, permitting, inspection, and certain fees. It would also set up a structure to put some of the “nuisance” issues associated with short-term rentals – for example: noise and parking – in the purview of the Board of Health.

Residents spoke out both in favor and against the proposed zoning bylaw that was drafted by Planning & Land Use Services (PLUS) staff, and will be considered as Article 42 at Town Meeting. A good portion of the debate centered around the question of whether short-term rentals affect the availability of affordable housing around the island, with opponents of the proposed bylaw asserting that real estate investors were snapping up year-round housing units to convert them into short-term rental businesses.

In advance of the meeting, the Planning Board received more than 52 pages of e-mails about the short-term rental bylaw.

The Planning Board also voted to take no action on Article 43, a competing zoning bylaw amendment submitted via citizen petition by Tobias Glidden, the executive chairman of the ACK Now political action non-profit group. Glidden’s proposal would allow short-term rentals by right as an accessory use for those whose primary residence is on Nantucket. For non-residents, a special permit would be required to use their property as a short-term rental as long as the Zoning Board of Appeals determined it was an accessory use. All other short-term rentals would be prohibited.

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