Town officials are weighing proposed zoning regulations that could require the owners of properties let out for short-term rentals to obtain a zoning permit first. The proposed regulations, now in draft form before the Planning & Zoning Commission, could come to a public hearing next month, officials said. Obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a Freedom of Information Act request, the draft proposal would see P&Z regulate short-term rentals as an accessory use, not a primary use, in residential districts. Specifically, a “minor short-term rental” would be defined as “the temporary rental or part or all of a residential property for fewer than 30 consecutive nights at a time, for no more than three times in a six-month period, for which the guest compensates the owner of the property.”
Such “minor short-term rentals” would occur no more than three times in a six-month period and would be required to meet Housing Code occupancy requirements, to be used for lodging only—as opposed to activities such as parties, fundraisers, photo shoots or corporate retreats—and must not “materially disrupt the residential character of the neighborhood,” according to the draft. Commissioner Krista Neilson, who has taken a lead on helping draft the regulations along with Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni, said that in some ways the language is designed to give more discretion to a zoning enforcement officer who might be faced with difficult situations and the prospect of resigning the requirement zoning permits.
Another part of the draft regulation specifies that the zoning permit, which would expire after one year, could be revoked if the rental “imposed a nuisance on neighbors.”
Brooks Avni noted that it would important to have “some sort of threshold about what the nuisance might be.”
“Just because they are bothered by the fact that a neighbor is renting, that might be their nuisance but if it’s allowed then it’s not really a nuisance,” she said during P&Z’s regular meeting, held April 30 at Town Hall.