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Let's regulate not ban short-term rentals

Speaking as participants in the short-term rental community, know that we understand and sympathize with the concerns expressed by some in the Town of Groton regarding the impact of this emerging facet of the sharing economy. We are your friends and neighbors and have no interest in destroying the historic character of our neighborhoods. Our response to these concerns is a whole-hearted, “Regulate us!”

Mystic is the number one tourist destination in Connecticut. Hospitality is our brand. The CT Office of Tourism, the Chambers of Commerce, the Downtown Mystic Merchants Association, along with the Seaport, the Aquarium and the hundreds of stores, restaurants, and small businesses dependent on tourism have, for decades, been inviting people to “Come to Mystic!” As we all know, the people listened and they are indeed coming with their kids, an appreciation for our coastal community, and their wallets.

Many who are opposed to short-term rentals in Groton are grateful for them when they travel. It’s nice to stay in a home — with enough beds for each family member — in a part of town that is close to the action instead of pushed out toward the highway interchange. Short-term rentals are thriving because they fulfill a mutually enriching need. They pour dollars into the local economy, alleviate parking woes, and contribute to the overall renaissance of restaurants and quality stores downtown. But, like any emerging cultural development, there are learning curves and unintended consequences. Our hope is that we can partner together as a town to create common-sense solutions.

In other tourist communities it’s becoming common to regulate STR’s with a medallion system. STR’s must register with local officials and submit to inspections and guidelines governing their use with fines for rule-breakers. Neighbors know who to call for enforcement if there is a problem, and taxes are collected (in addition to what guests already pay to the state in occupancy fees) to fund enforcement. Instead of banning STR’s outright, let’s first see if there are things we can learn from other communities that have faced similar tourism-driven challenges. Then let’s work together to continue building Mystic into a world-class destination where the guests we welcome here and the residents who live here can co-exist happily. 

Geoff and Val Gordon, Fran Wiehn, Paul and Debbie Bied, Matt McCormack, Erin DelGrosso, Araund and Barbara Bourgeois, Chris and Deb Pardue, Bennet Pardue.

 

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