Chesterton Tribune


Beverly Shores between a rock and a hard place over short term rentals

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Visit a popular vacation-rental website and one can find several listings for per-night, weekend and weekly rentals of homes in Beverly Shores. Some advertise five-bedroom lakefront homes that rent for $800 a night and sleep up to 12 people or more.

Monday, the Beverly Shores Plan Commission voted 6-0 to forward a controversial zoning amendment to the Town Council with a recommendation that it be approved.

Dec. 17 the council is likely to consider the matter, which would define and limit the uses of rental property in a residential district.

Several new conditions would be imposed on the rental of single-family dwellings including a minimum rental period of 30 consecutive days or more “to a single family,” and limits of two persons per bedroom and eight total persons in any rental.

Additionally, the town would require a $25 registration fee for each rental and a copy of the written lease, the names and addresses of all persons who will occupy the rental property during the rental period, their contact information and specifics about all tenant vehicles to be parked at the rental property.

Commission president Greg Lyman said following a 2011 Indiana Supreme Court decision upholding the Town of Ogden Dunes’ right to limit rentals there, Beverly Shores began a review of its own comprehensive plan and ordinances. It was determined Beverly Shores could prohibit rentals, said Lyman, but a compromise short of that is being proposed instead.

More than 20 persons attended Monday’s public hearing.

Henry Streiffer said he’s rented a home to 100 people in six years and “as far as I know there’s never been a single complaint or problem.” He said existing town laws regarding trash and noise can address problems without taking away a rental option that’s been an asset for many.

Streiffer supported measures like having owners of rental property obtain a license as well as being fined along with tenants if town rules are broken. He predicted about 15 homes will go up for sale hurting the town’s property values if the new rental restrictions become law.

Linda Rackas said she would be very disappointed if the town overreacts and the ordinance amendment is adopted. Both she and commission member John Daraska cited the long-time need for some people who inherit homes in Beverly Shores to rent them out on occasion to help cover ownership costs and keep the property in the family.

Daraska said it appears the town is between a rock and a hard place over rentals.

David Phelps suggested the question be put on the ballot as a referendum; Lyman said whether to do so would be a Town Council decision. According to Phelps, “It goes without saying if your neighbor is someone new every weekend or every month, they’re not invested in this community like we are.”

Phelps also questioned how the new regulations proposed would be enforced.

Neal Mulconrey said most people are against short-term rentals and the ordinance shouldn’t be changed for a few investors; the town’s comprehensive plan describes a single-family community, not a resort town, he added. Two other speakers concurred with his remarks.

Lyman later confirmed that of 164 responses received over the last 10 months on the subject, the majority were against short-term rentals.

Barbara Singer said the Beverly Shores debate is being watched in legal and real-estate circles, and she questioned whether there was data like police logs to back up complaints about renters, and whether those complaints were disproportionate compared to year-round residents.

"Is it a gut feeling because we heard from people and we like their opinion more, or has there been empirical evidence?” she asked.

After public comment was closed, Lyman said in his opinion renting to 12, 14 and 18 people at a time is not consistent with single-family residential use. “It doesn’t take much imagination to see how being next to 18 people could affect you.”

Commission member Peg Oberle said allowing even 30-day rentals could be opening a door the town might regret.

Commission and Town Council member Cynthia Kienlen said she’s had some bad experiences, and she’s not looking forward to summers now. She noted there’s a huge difference between someone who comes for a week or 30 days, and a permanent resident with ties to the community.

Commission and council member Angela Maurello noted an email was received from Scott Brainerd.

A lakefront homeowner who said nightly and weekly rentals have been the de facto policy in town for decades, he forwarded additional comments to the Chesterton Tribune including a concern “that the planning commission for the town (of Beverly Shores) is asking for rental restrictions virtually unheard of or paralleled in the United States.”



Posted 12/12/2012