BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Clarkston Planning Commission will take a crack at regulating short-term rentals in residential zones, after City Council voted 4-2, Dec. 9, to direct the Planning Commission to write an ordinance proposal on it.
The vote was at the request of the commission.
“We’re asking for some direction,” said Rich Little, planning commission chair, at the City Council meeting.
City attorney Thomas Ryan said city ordinances do not specify short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, are allowable in residential areas, therefore they are not considered allowed.
City ordinance Section 18.10’s list of “Uses specifically not permitted as home occupations” does include “tourist home,” however, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a house in which rooms are available for rent to transients.”
“I guess we’d have to determine whether tourist housing and Airbnbs would be the same thing,” said Mayor Eric Haven in an email. “It sounds to me like they would. Thanks for drawing this to our attention.”
City Council was conflicted on the issue, Dec. 9, with two motions dying due to lack of support. The dead motions included sending the recommendation back to the Planning Commission for more information and banning short-term rentals outright.
A motion by Council member Sue Wylie to allow short-term rentals with regulations was seconded and approved in a split vote. Wylie and council members Al Avery, Jason Kneisc, and Scott Reynolds voted “yes.” Voting “no” were Haven and Council member Joe Luginski.
A total ban would be a problem, said Ryan, who suggested allowing the Planning Commission work with city consultant Carilse Wortman to prepare a set of regulations.
“It’s almost impossible to enforce zero tolerance,” agreed Avery. “Are we going to knock on people’s doors? Who would do that? The horse is out of the barn. If we can put some parameters on this, I would feel more comfortable.”
City ordinances allow hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts in commercial zones only, with regulations on parking, floor area, and length of stay. The city has one bed and breakfast in a residential zone, the Millpond Inn on N. Main Street, but owners Buck and Joan Kopietz had to take the city to court in 1991 after it was rejected by City Council. The case took six years, after which the city passed an ordinance restricting bed-and-breakfasts.
BY PHIL CUSTODIO