By Curt Peterson
In the eyes of the Select Board, Killington’s short-term rental (STR) registration program seemed to be stuck — at least not moving very fast.
Selectman Jim Haff said at a March 13 meeting, that the town has paid taxpayer dollars to LodgingRevs.com, but he felt the firm had not delivered as promised.
Selectmen had been concerned that ski season, during which many STRs are heavily in use, was almost over and the registration project, approved by voters in November, wasn’t in full operation. At issue is property owners renting in violation of zoning regulations to large groups who park in narrow roads, have noisy parties and overburden septic and water supply systems.
In response, Zoning Administrator Preston Bristow and consultant Ken Wonsor have worked with LodgingRevs.com, the firm hired to monitor Killington’s new short-term rental registration program on internet advertising platforms, to finalize data input and complete a working system.
Documenting and uploading zoning data for all the STRs has taken considerable time, Wonsor explained. When property owners register their short-term rentals the legal capacity is confirmed and provided to LodgingRevs. If the owner advertises a rental for groups larger than the registered zoning limit, LodgingRevs advises the town of the violation.
“We send LodgingRevs our data spreadsheet, they update their data, and send back a combination report that displays variances between what’s advertised, and what the STR is registered for,” Wonsor said.
Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth said, “The town has paid LodgingRevs only $5,600 so far. The firm has only billed for what they have done.”
The estimated total cost for setting up the program is $20,000.
Bristow reported on March 19 that 519 short-term rental units have been registered and loaded into the Lodging Revs software, where advertised features will be matched against official town registration records.
“A short-term rental” according to the town website, “is defined as a furnished house, condominium, or other dwelling room or self-contained dwelling unit rented to the transient, traveling, or vacationing public for a period of fewer than 30 consecutive days and for more than 14 days per calendar year.”
STR capacities are limited to two persons per legal bedroom, “plus two” – e.g., a three-bedroom home can be advertised to accommodate up to eight people, but not more. Legal capacities are regulated according to water and waste water systems, fire safety regulations, and zoning ordinance.
In addition to adhering to occupancy limitations, owners must document compliance with fire safety requirements and Act 250 waste water permits, and confirm their insurance carrier is aware of the rental status of the property.
According to the zoning regulation, STRs with an occupancy of 16 or fewer guests are allowed in all zoning districts; those offering accommodation to greater than 16 guests are not allowed in the Forest Reserve and Residential 1 and 3 zoning districts.
Bristow said LodgingRevs.com has notified him of 107 properties that were advertising accommodations beyond their registered legal capacities.
“We send violators an email notifying them of the discrepancy,” he said. “If the violation isn’t remedied in seven days the violation becomes official, and the fines begin to accumulate until it is remedied.”
A violation is treated like any other zoning violation in the town of Killington where a fine of $200 per day can be assessed.
Of the 189 STR owners who had not registered their properties in February, only 62 still have not done so. Those owners were sent certified mail letters on March 26, according to town officials.
Wonsor said some people are using their units during ski season and only rent in the summer, so haven’t registered yet. Some have stopped renting entirely, or have rented less than 14 days in the past year, so feel they don’t need to register their property.
“Now it’s going well and will work great,” Selectman Haff told the Mountain Times on March 29. “We just needed to get everybody on the same page.”