The discussion on whether or not to add additional regulations on Short Term Rentals in Northampton County continued at Tuesday night’s regular monthly board meeting.
Four citizens spoke in favor of additional regulations, and four spoke in favor of keeping the regulations the same during the public comment period.
Cheryl Dalessio of Hungars Beach asked the Board to require the special use permit.
“The current one size fits all approach is not the answer. Currently, there are no areas in this county where short term rentals are restricted, nor is there a requirement to notify adjacent property owners of intent,” said said. “The requirement of a special use permit has been supported by the Berkeley Group, a community development consulting firm that was contracted by the Board of Supervisors to make recommendations regarding the permit process for short term rentals.”
Ron Franks, also of Hungars Beach, said without a regulatory process, the County will lose residents for lack of available rentals.
“As a hiring manager at Wallops Island, we tend to lose residents because it’s an Eastern Shore issue, not just a Northampton issue. Those people that come here looking to stay here for an extended period of time, we often lose them across the bay, to Washington DC, and we lose them to other geographies where they have better opportunities for long term rentals,” said Franks. “RocketLab just broke ground, they are going to be opening their headquarters on the Eastern Shore… and we need places for them to live.”
MJ Golibart, who operated a short term rental at Hungars Beach, was concerned over what the special use permit process would do for younger residents looking for supplemental income.
“We in the short term rental business are not opposed to regulation, in fact we welcome it, the clearer and more concise, the better,” he said, adding “the thing that concerns me the most is the addition of the minor special use permit, because it injects an amount of uncertainty in the process that is untenable for most people.”
He said he felt the board’s proposal was too broad.
“We are kind of swinging the pendulum from a by right everywhere to a special use permit everywhere, and I think that’s wrong. I think the young folks that were here last month who want to raise a family here and are supplementing their income using a short term rental, they need to know with some certainty they can do that before they invest a bunch of money.”
Following the citizen comments, Supervisor Dixon Leatherbury suggested he, along with Supervisor John Coker, Planning Director Susan McGhee and County Attorney Michelle Clayton continue working together to formulate a plan that can be acceptable to the citizens. The board agreed by consent.