Northampton gears up for Short Term Rental debate

September 14, 2023
Northampton County

Like so many other localities across the country, Northampton County is gearing up for a discussion on how to handle short term rentals(STRs).

Short term rentals initially started in a similar vein of ride sharing platforms, where home owners would rent out unused rooms in their houses for extra income, but has matured into a $100 billion market according to Global News Wire, with projections to grow to $228 billion by the end of the decade.

However, there are those who blame the housing crunch on the STRs, arguing it takes away houses that would normally be month to month rentals for working families for the more lucrative weekly vacation rentals, particularly in popular vacation towns, such as Cape Charles.

According to Northampton County Administrator Charlie Kolakowski, the Northampton Planning Commission has been discussing the matter and, with the help of a consulting firm, has brought back recommendations to the Supervisors for consideration.

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A memorandum from the Berkley Group suggested requiring a minor special use permit for STRs under County jurisdiction, as well as providing contact information of owners, occupancy and parking regulations and a noise ordinance. All registered STRs would pay transient lodging tax business licensure fees. These regulations would not apply to STRs in Northampton County’s incorporated towns.

Two speakers spoke during the public comment period at Tuesday night’s meeting, Ken Dufty of Exmore and Paul Grossman, a Cape Charles Town Councilman, recommending ideas for the board to consider as they approach the matter.

The board agreed to let liaisons to the Planning Commission, John Coker and Dixon Leatherbury, to continue to work on the recommendations with the Planning Commission. Once agreed upon, the recommendations will go through public hearing at the Planning Commission before approval and being sent to the Board of Supervisors where they will conduct their own public hearing and approval process.

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