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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    Preston approves moratorium on short-term rentals

    Preston ― The Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday voted unanimously to enact a six-month moratorium on short-term rentals to consider whether to allow them at all in the future.

    It did, however, approve another three new short-term rental applications submitted prior to the moratorium taking effect.

    Without discussion and following a 30-minute public hearing, the commission voted to approve the moratorium which takes effect Dec. 15. But six applications for new short-term rental permits were pending before the commission.

    The commission approved three of them and tabled three others to its January meeting. The moratorium will not affect the tabled applications.

    Town Planner Kathy Warzecha explained to the 15 people attending the public hearing that short-term rental is defined as a stay of less than three weeks during a three-month period.Applicants must have off-street parking, and outdoor events are prohibited.

    During the public hearing, several residents, including neighbors of existing short-term rental properties in town, urged the commission to enact the moratorium and to go further and ban short-term rentals altogether.

    “I’m not in favor of short-term rental properties,” resident Joseph Nunley said. “I don’t want vagrants that close to my property, where my daughter plays. I don’t know who’s going to be in there. I don’t know if they’re on the registered sex offender list. I don’t know if there’s crackheads. I’m not in favor of this.”

    John Waggoner said he lives next door to a short-term rental he called very disruptive to the residential neighborhood. He said he tried to fight the short-term rental next door to him in the past. Waggoner said short-term rentals are commercial businesses in residential neighborhoods.

    “You’re destroying this town,” Waggoner said, “because they’re not people that are invested in this town. They’re just looking to make big bucks at our expense, and they’re destroying the way this town has been for years. This is a residential area, and it just does not belong here.”

    Resident Andy Bilodeau said short-term rentals are commercial businesses in residential dwellings in residential neighborhoods.

    “it’s too much commercial businesses in a residential area,” Bilodeau said. “And you have no idea who’s renting these places as short-term rentals. The owners may or may not be vetting them on what their backgrounds might be.”

    Matthew Gauthier, owner of a proposed short-term rental at 12 North Shore Road, said he has been running a short-term rental at that address for the past 1 ½ years with full support of his neighbors. He was on Tuesday’s agenda for a proposed second short-term rental at 240 Route 164 ― later approved by the commission ― and had more letters of support from those neighbors. The commission also approved a second short-term rental at Gauthier’s 12 North Shore Road location.

    “So, it’s not all bad, things that you hear,” Gauthier said. “Maybe there’s people coming from out of town. My family has been in town since the 1800s. We’ve had farms in town. We’ve been in town forever. We’re here to stay.”

    In addition to Gauthier’s two applications, the commission approved a short-term rental application at 8 Amos Road and tabled applications for short-term rentals at 119 Route 2A, 1 Route 2 and 146 Route 2.

    c.bessette@theday.com

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