By Curt Peterson
The Killington Planning Commission voted to send its short-term rental property registration and permit proposal to the Select Board for consideration. The decision came Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The board proposed a system for coordinating and documenting data regarding the town’s large number of short-term rentals.
According to Preston Bristow, interim zoning administrator, the town’s 820 full-time residents have the largest number of short-term rentals in the state – 931 listings.
A short-term rental is defined as a property tenanted for less than 30 consecutive days and more than 14 days in one year. Killington Resort, and the many dining and entertainment offerings surrounding it, provide a year-round source of renters for these properties.
The Select Board may consider the recommendation at its next meeting on Jan. 21. If accepted, the proposal would become an ordinance enforceable by the Planning Commission.
The commissioners voted 4 to 3 in favor of the recommendation, with Andy Salamon abstaining.
Regulation of short-term rentals was inspired, in part, by an ongoing court case involving a property owner who was given a Vermont fire and safety permit allowing up to 28 occupants
in a dwelling, based solely on installation of a sprinkler system and satisfying other fire safety requirements. The owner said he relied on this permit to rent his property to many more short-term tenants than the wastewater system could accommodate, causing septic failure and multiple sanitation concerns.
According to Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth, at least 30 additional properties are in violation, with various resulting issues. He feels the registration and permit process will serve to document which and how many properties are in the short-term rental pool, and to educate the owners about state and town regulations that need to be followed.
Police Chief Whit Montgomery said there are many complaints about over-occupancy, parking in streets, noisy parties and other breaches of the peace related to short-term rental properties.
Both the audience and board members brought up objections to the proposal during discussion.
Commissioners Walter Linnemayr, Chris Karr and Salamon said they thought the proposal was being rushed, and suggested waiting for Rep.Jim Harrison’s (R-Rutland County) recently introduced bill that Bristow said would give the town “clear authority to regulate short-term rentals.”
The pending court case was also mentioned, with a suggestion the commission wait for its result before taking action.
Hagenbarth said there isn’t much likelihood the Harrison bill will become law any time soon, and there is nothing in his bill or involved in the court case that would affect the need for the proposed zoning amendment.
“These laws are already in state statutes,” Hagenbarth said. “There is nothing proposed that will increase requirements on the part of property owners. They already have to comply with wastewater and fire safety regulations. But without this amendment in place Killington has no way to enforce those regulations.”
In the final version approved by the commission, short-term rental owners are not required to provide copies of documents showing State Division of Fire Safety inspector approval or a Vermont Wastewater and Water Supply Permit, or indicate their liability insurance reflects use of the property as a short-term rental. Instead, they can “self-certify” compliance and existence of documents.
“Once we have the owners’ signatures on a piece of paper certifying they have all the necessary approvals, we have something we can enforce,” Hagenbarth said.
Selectman Jim Haff said the Planning Commission will have to let the Select Board decide if there will be a permit application fee, and how much any fines would be for non-compliance.
The commission had talked about monitoring advertising on sites such as Airbnb to see what occupancies are offered by property owners.