Norwich – After months of study, planners on Monday presented a draft ordinance to regulate the 71 estimated short-term rental properties already operating in the city unattended.
Planning Director Deanna Rhodes presented highlights of the eight-page project to City Council in a briefing. Rhodes said she hoped for comments and planned to schedule a public forum before council holds a formal public hearing on the order.
Rhodes hopes to get the ordinance approved so the city can begin processing short-term license applications on November 15. short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or Vacation Rentals by Owner, VRBO.
The Norwich draft ordinance would allow short-term rentals in areas within a quarter-mile of South East Zone bus routes to encourage the use of public transport. The ordinance would limit guests to one vehicle per room rented and limit occupancy to two people from the same party per room.
Parking would not be permitted on lawns and owners would not be able to convert front lawns into parking lots.
Rhodes told city council that many of the complaints the city received related to noise, large parties, parking and excessive traffic on residential streets.
The ordinance would ban major parties, weddings, bachelor parties, concerts, commercial events or corporate receptions.
âIt’s a big deal,â Rhodes said.
The draft ordinance sets an overall limit of 100 short-term rental units in the city, with no more than five units per house. A vacant house – where the owner does not live – must be rented as a single unit to a group of guests, not function as a “de facto hotel,” Rhodes said.
She added that the five-unit limit would ensure the city still has enough long-term rental housing for residents.
No rooms can be rented in basements, third floors or attics for security reasons. The ordinance also provides incentives for short-term owner-occupied rentals by allowing larger occupancies.
If an owner does not live in the house, the city would require the person to appoint a local property manager, who would be responsible for handling complaints or emergencies. A condominium owner would need proof that the condominium association has approved the application.
The draft states that the landlord must be up to date on property taxes so that the property can rent it out and that there are no outstanding trespassing.
During Monday’s presentation, aldermen questioned whether owners of the property tax payment plans would be eligible and whether unpaid bills from Norwich Public Utilities would be included. Rhodes said these arrangements could be incorporated into the project.
License fees have not yet been set. The license is expected to be renewed each year in November for the period starting the following January. Late fees would apply for late renewals, and the owner would lose the license if it was not renewed by February 15th. Violations of the restrictions would result in a fine of $ 250 per violation.
Rhodes said the Department of Planning and Neighborhood Services has been working on the proposed ordinance for 18 months and has reviewed around 30 ordinances from different towns and small towns.