Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 27, 2007

Elk Rapids OKs short-term rentals

ELK RAPIDS -- The village finally settled on zoning rules for the contentious issue of short-term housing rentals after more than two years of discussion, but some residents still aren't satisfied.

The Village Council agreed last week to allow for short-term rental of single-family homes in all residential zoning districts, village President Daniel Reszka said. The amendment defines "short-term" as 27 days or less at a time, a resolution reached after the issue spent more than two years weaving its way through the planning process.

"This has been a difficult issue," Reszka said. "It's been more divisive than it needs to be."

Some residents worry the proliferation of such rentals could alter the character of the community.

"Those of us who have raised this issue are concerned about a tipping point that will occur when (the village) becomes a summer rental place rather than a place you live year-round," said Royce Ragland, a retired management specialist and five-year resident of the village.

People looking to settle down there might be driven away by a "changing cast of characters" who would serve as neighbors if short-term rentals aren't kept in check, Ragland said.

"I don't think most families want to move into the middle of a couple of short-term rentals," she said. "People are hungry for community and hungry for neighborhoods."

Others were concerned the rentals could create problems with noise and parking and lead to other disturbances, Reszka said.

But short-term rentals have always been allowed in the village, Reszka said, adding the zoning could be changed if officials decide there are too many.

Opponents were also upset the council chose to allow rentals without adding additional restrictions. Reszka says other local regulations that cover parking, noise problems and other disturbances already exist, meaning additional regulations tied to the zoning would likely be redundant.

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