East Bay considers rental rules fixes


TRAVERSE CITY — If East Bay Township officials hoped their proposed fixes to a new short-term renting ordinance would satisfy rental owners and managers, they're likely headed for disappointment.

Audience members at a township meeting last week said they feel their input on the ordinance is being ignored, and that they're facing an overly cumbersome application requirement, prohibitive septic system rules and a rental frequency limit they argue is too restrictive.

Cottage owner Susan Burke echoed others who own or manage short-term rentals in saying some regulation is required.

"My gut reaction is that they're necessary, but I strongly feel like it's like I had a blister on my foot that could be come infected, so I go to the doctor and he decides to amputate my leg," she said.

Burke told trustees she thinks the rules overall could be the result of an overreaction and suggested the township start with small steps — numerous other owners said the township's go too far and the proposed fixes didn't satisfy them.

The proposed amendments wouldn't change that frequency rule, and that irked several who spoke to township trustees. Ordinances as written would limit a short term rental's next paying guests from checking in until the seventh day after the previous ones did, Township Supervisor Beth Friend said.

That frequency limit is the source of much confusion, Friend acknowledged, adding she and township attorneys are working to clarify it.

Most of the proposed changes focus on fixing or clarifying inadvertent issues, like a former requirement that short-term rental owners get periodic septic system inspections and required inspectors to be certified through an accreditation program, Friend said. The nearest inspector with such certification is dozens of miles away, so that language has been dropped, she said.

Another would drop the annual licensing fee for short-term rentals by $100 to $350, and those who paid the original price would get a refund, Friend said.

Implementing the ordinance is still on hold, so owners who don't comply with the township's short-term renting rules aren't risking a ticket — so long as they're following other ordinances, Friend said.

Friend said she expects township trustees to introduce the ordinance in June 10, with an eventual vote set to follow at a later date. Public hearings aren't required to amend police power ordinances, but people can speak about the proposed amendments during regular public comment at the meetings, she said.

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