By Katy Savage
A Killington vacation homeowner may need an Act 250 permit to continue renting his home.
Act 250 District Coordinator William Burke said the three-bedroom home on Estabrook Road has “potential for significant adverse impacts under Act 250 criteria” in a Dec. 13, 2018 opinion letter.
Homeowner Vincent Connolly has caused contention for renting his home out to 36 people or more through the website, Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), despite water supply and wastewater systems that were approved for only a three bedroom home.
Burke cited wastewater, traffic and aesthetic concerns in his opinion letter.
Connolly’s home is in the Cricket Hill community, which carries a convenance established in 1972, saying “single private dwellings shall not be used for commercial purposes.”
Connolly’s neighbors have expressed concern about noise and wastewater overflowing into their yard.
Connolly, who has owned his home since 2005, is facing appeals at the town and state level.
Connolly received his first zoning violation notice from the town in October. Town Zoning Administrator Dick Horner said at the time that Connolly’s rental home far exceeds the town’s two people per bedroom capacity.
Connolly appealed the violation and the Zoning Board of Adjustment held a 4-hour public hearing Nov. 7, ultimately determining the appeal lacked merit.
Since then, Horner issued another violation to Connolly Nov. 21 for changing use of his single family dwelling into a commercial facility without seeking a zoning permit first.
Connolly appealed that decision again Dec. 4. The Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold another hearing Jan. 17 at 6 p.m.
“I’m assuming we’re going to go to the environmental court with both violations,” Connolly said.
Connolly was looking forward to explaining his case before the state’s environmental court.
“We have done nothing to the exterior of the house to trigger Act 250,” he said. “Now we just need to get in front of a judge.”
Connolly and his lawyer have argued his home is grandfathered. Connolly, who lives in Colorado, purchased his home in Killington and started renting it in 2005. The zoning bylaws changed, limiting bedroom capacity, in 2006.
The Vermont Division of Fire Safety classifies the home as a hotel because of its sizable sleeping capacity. Connolly has stacked double-size bunk beds into the home’s existing bedrooms.
The more people Connolly’s home can sleep, the more money he can get on VRBO.
This isn’t the first time one of Connolly’s properties has been in contention.
Connolly received a zoning violation in Morristown in 2017 for a three-bedroom home he owns and rents there to 20 people at times.
Connolly appeared before the Morristown Planning Council after he received the violation for exceeding the town’s three-bedroom, six person capacity for short term rentals.
The town changed the zoning bylaws to work with Connolly.
“The select board wants those vacationers in town. They spend money here,” said Morristown Town Administrator and Planning Director Todd Thomas.
However, the Killington Select Board sees it differently.
The board is considering an ordinance to limit vacation rentals in Killington. “Our attorney is giving us some direction,” said Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth. “We’re getting more and more reports of people renting to many people.”
If the town pursued an ordinance, it would apply to all like properties. It is considering making the zoning language more specific, so that different rules could apply to different districts within the town. The Board will take this up again after the budget has been finalized.