The Town’s Own Proposed Short-Term Rental Bylaw Gets First Look Today

After more than a year of acrimonious debate over short-term rentals on Nantucket, the Planning Board will get its first look today at a series of town-sponsored bylaw proposals that would codify short-term rentals and regulate them with requirements for local registration, permitting, inspection, and certain fees. 

The zoning bylaw amendment the Planning Board will consider this afternoon would codify the use of residential properties for short-term rentals by right. That distinction is important following a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial decision last year – known as the “Styller” or “Lynnfield” case – which some have interpreted as prohibiting short-term rentals in residential zoning districts, as well as other regulatory and legal challenges. The SJC 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.” 

Read the town-sponsored proposals by clicking here

The town-sponsored zoning bylaw amendment would also define a short-term rental as a dwelling with at least one room for rent up to 31 days at a time. Anything renting for more than a month at a time would not be considered a short-term rental. A disclaimer in the Planning Board meeting packet reads: “The Planning Board has not reviewed this article and it’s still under legal review. Subject to more changes, which may result in multiple articles to separate concepts.”

During last year’s annual Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal from the ACK Now non-profit group that sought to regulate and restrict short-term rentals. Meanwhile, several challenges to short-term rentals in residential zoning districts made their way to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Massachusetts Land Court. ACK Now has another short-term rental proposal that it has submitted for consideration at this year’s annual Town Meeting, one that would allow year-round and seasonal residents to use their properties for short-term rental as they do now, while attempting to restrict “off-island corporate investors” from doing so.

Today’s meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. and you can watch it live at this link. 

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