VRBO Jumps Into Nantucket’s Debate Over Short-Term Rentals

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. 
Finance Committee Endorses Codifying Short-Term Rentals Island-Wide

VRBO, the national online vacation rental marketplace, jumped into Nantucket’s debate over short-term rentals this week with both feet.

The company’s government affairs team sent an e-mail blast to its island contacts on Monday urging them to lobby the town Finance Committee to endorse two pending bylaw proposals that would ensure Nantucket property owners’ ability to short-term rent their homes.

Specifically, the two warrant articles would codify and legalize short-term rentals in all Nantucket zoning districts, while also regulating them with requirements for local registration, permitting, inspection, and certain fees. It would also set up a structure to put the Board of Health in charge of dealing with the “nuisance” issues associated with short-term rentals, for example, complaints regarding noise and parking.

VRBO also advocated against a citizen petition from ACK Now executive chairman Tobias Glidden that 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.

Calling the Planning Board’s proposed bylaw changes “the beneficial articles” while dubbing Glidden’s petition “the harmful article,” the VRBO communication urged their contacts on Nantucket to attend yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting to speak out, e-mail the Finance Committee about the proposals, and join the group known as “Nantucket Together” that formed last year to oppose ACK Now’s previous effort to restrict and regulate short-term rentals on the island.

“We encourage you to make your voice heard in support of Articles 39 and 42, and in opposition to Article 43,” the VRBO government affairs team wrote in the letter.

The Finance Committee voted yesterday to issue positive recommendations on Articles 39 and 42 – the zoning and general bylaw amendments put forward by the Planning Board. It also voted to endorse the Planning Board’s recommendation that voters take no action on Glidden’s citizen petition.

Those are the motions that island voters will consider at Town Meeting on May 2. The Finance Committee votes come one week after Planning Board similarly endorsed the two warrant articles.


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