Short-Term Rental Regulations On Tap Tonight At Planning Board

The island’s debate over short-term rentals will be renewed in earnest today when the Planning Board opens a series of public hearings on warrant articles up for debate at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting. 

In one measure of the interest in the potential regulations on short-term rentals, the Planning Board has already received more than 52-pages of written public comments submitted via e-mail by year-round and seasonal residents of the island. 

Up for debate today will be Article 42, the zoning bylaw amendment sponsored by the Planning Board itself that would codify short-term rentals and allow them by right in all zoning districts. “We’re moving to codify what has always been happening,” Planning Director Andrew Vorce said last month. A separate general bylaw amendment 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. 

A separate public hearing will be held 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. 

The proposal “ensures that Nantucket residents can continue to short-term rent their own property even in residential zoning areas,” Glidden stated in his petition. “This article also clearly allows for seasonal residents to short-term rent, while discouraging the conversion of neighborhood homes into purely commercial short-term rental businesses by off-island corporate investors.”

Both proposals seek to address the implications of the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision in the Styller v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Lynnfield case, which stated “short-term rental use of a one family home is inconsistent with the zoning purpose of the single-residence zoning district in which it is situated, i.e., to preserve the residential character of the neighborhood.”

That ruling has roiled the vacation rental home industry in Massachusetts, as well as municipalities like Nantucket that are under pressure to regulate or restrict short-term rentals.

To join and participate in today’s public hearings, which begin at 4 p.m., click here.

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