Posted on May 8, 2021 06:53 AM
Supervisors in the Township of Lower Towamensing continued this week with a hearing on short-term rental properties, also known as vacation rentals.
The township is considering an ordinance and an amendment to the zoning ordinance to include short-term rental properties.
Resident Steve Meining attended monthly meetings and spoke about the issues he has encountered in his neighborhood with noise and rude behavior from vacation renters.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone, the supervisors and the planning board who were involved in crafting a short term rental order for having the patience to listen to my comments over the past few months,” Meining said. âMy thoughts and concerns, expressed during this time, were intended only to protect the health, safety and well-being of the current citizens of our township and the lands they occupy.
The zoning ordinance restricts short-term rentals to residential properties in the low density residential neighborhood (R-1) and the village center district (VC).
District R-1 consists of subdivisions located near Spruce Hollow Road above Little Gap Road, south of Hahns Dairy Road and between Wintergreen Road and Forest Inn Road.
The Village Center area is in the Forest Inn Road, Fireline Road and Sand Quarry Road area, as well as under the ski resort along Little Gap Road, Lower Smith Gap Road and Hahns Dairy Road near Covered Bridge Road .
About 10% to 15% of potential short-term rental properties are in these neighborhoods.
Short-term rentals would not be allowed in the Rural Conservation District (RC), which represents about 80% of the township. Any current short-term rentals in the RC District should apply for a special exception at the Zoning Hearing Panel.
Short-term rentals are also not permitted in the Resort and Recreation District (RR), Medium and High Density Residential District (R-2) and Industrial District (I).
Mark Shay, a resident and real estate agent, asked why short-term rentals aren’t allowed in all zoning areas in the township.
âHere in Lower Towamensing we have resort and recreation, rural conservation and industrial zoning districts, all made up of properties with lots of space, houses and allowing for short term rentals in these areas would seem less likely. to have an impact on residents than to allow it in R1. Regulations should provide the opportunity for responsible behavior everywhere, âShay said.
âTo me it seems fairer to allow short-term rentals in every zoning district in the township and include wording on the nuisance designation like they have done in Towamensing and some other townships. I encourage you to have the bylaws, but I hope we can do this in all the zoning districts in the township.
Brent Green, chairman of supervisors, said the township had explored the idea of ââincluding all zoning districts, but having a house in a commercial district is already improper use and they did not want to promote the development of more houses there.
âIt’s not something we didn’t want to consider,â he said. âIt’s basically something that we said, ‘Let’s see where this goes in the ordinance and if we need to fix it in other zoning districts, we sure can,’ but we didn’t want to go out and the put everywhere.
Shay encouraged a nuisance clause because it can give a municipality more influence over landlords to control who they rent to.
âIf a property is cited for noise or guest behavior, then the owner is cited that you have created a nuisance and repeating that quote means you can lose your license,â he said.
Green explained that the stand-alone ordinance governing short-term rental properties includes a nuisance clause and its application.
The municipal ordinance and the zoning ordinance are available for public inspection.