STOCKTON SPRINGS — Short-term rentals were again on the agenda at the Feb. 17 Select Board meeting. A handful of residents were present to offer their views.

Since the issue was last discussed in the fall, short-term rental owners in town have talked among themselves, and Paul Barclay, one of the owners, said he had given Town Manager Mac Smith a list of the owners and their contact information. He said there were 13 STRs in town last year, but one property has since sold and is no longer being rented, leaving just 12. In addition, there are a few people in town who rent one or more rooms in their own homes. Some of the STR owners who do not live in the property they rent live in town; others live elsewhere. Barclay said he determined the number of STRs in town by counting listings on Airbnb.

One woman said starter homes have been bought up by investors and turned into rentals, making it difficult for young families to move into town. Resident John Vallely reminded the board more than once that last year he and others had gathered 30 signatures on a letter asking them to “do something” about problems with short-term rentals. He noted that when owners rent their property to vacationers, the renters become the neighbors to people living nearby, and “some of those people are going to be lousy neighbors.” Therefore, he said, it does not help to complain to the owner about one set of renters when there will be new renters in the house the next week.

Select Board member Betsy Bradley disagreed, saying owners would use the information from complaints to encourage better behavior in the next tenants.

Vallely replied, “It’s the nature of the short-term rental business that it disrupts the neighborhood.”

Barcley said all his neighbors, even some who live up to half a mile away, have his phone number and he has never had a problem. “I don’t think anyone who has a rental property wants to be a bad neighbor,” he said.

Board members asked those who said they had had problems with short-term rentals in their neighborhood to document any future problems and talk to the property owners about them. They felt owners should have the chance to fix the problems before the town steps in to try to correct them with an ordinance.

Vallely again urged the board to stop dragging its feet and act to control short-term rentals. Bradley reminded him that residents can draft an ordinance and petition the board to add it to the town meeting warrant.

Board members said they were interested in holding a workshop with the Planning Board in April to discuss a possible ordinance or a moratorium on new STRs.

The board also approved the purchase from A-Copi Imaging Systems of Gardiner of a new copier for the Town Office for $8,200, to be paid from the Office Equipment Replacement account. It also approved the purchase of a one-year service contract for the new copier and an existing one for a total of $1,270. By replacing the town’s obsolete copier, for which the manufacturer, Toshiba, no longer makes replacement parts, the town will reduce the cost of its service contract by about $948 next year.

In other business, the board appointed Bonnie Jean Brooks to the Planning Board as an alternate. Her term will expire June 30, 2023.

They also signed quitclaim deeds from the town to the successful bidders on three tax-acquired properties that were awarded Feb. 3.

The next meeting will be Thursday, March 3, at 8 a.m. in the Town Office.

filed under: