Focus on Short-Term Rentals

Rochester’s Zoning Bylaw Review Committee on June 27 approved forwarding to Town Counsel a new bylaw that would regulate short-term rentals within private residences.

            The new bylaw, if passed at the October 21 Special Town Meeting, would restrict owners of private homes to offering short-term rentals of space within their properties for no more than 30 days per rental. The property owner would need to apply for a special permit, and the property would need to be owner occupied for at least 180 days of the year.

            This latter point was the most debated one on June 27, as the committee reviewed the Town Counsel’s edit of the first draft of the new regulation. Member Jeffrey Costa noted 180 is not even half a year; the draft should read 190 days or more. Other members whittled that suggestion down to “at least 180.” The next step will be town’s further revision of the draft into its final form.

            Members also noted that Town Counsel has already deleted a lot of the committee’s original draft. Chairman Richard Cutler said Town Counsel told him it was edited this way to make it a zoning bylaw rather than a general bylaw. The resulting vote to pass the draft along to Town Counsel was unanimous.

            In other business, Cutler noted the committee and Town Counsel are also working on totally eliminating “use variances” from the zoning bylaws.

            Cutler reported Building Commissioner Paul Boucher has informed the review committee that it needs to clean up existing zoning bylaws rather than creating new ones. Cutler said he has instructed Boucher to send the board his list of bylaws needing cleanup attention.

            No future meetings of the Rochester Zoning By-Law Review Committee were scheduled as of press time.

Rochester Zoning By-Law Review Committee

By Michael J. DeCicco

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