It is no secret that short term rentals are increasing in popularity in communities across the country, including Port Sheldon.
Port Sheldon Township currently has close to 100 advertised short term rentals (STRs) in existence across most residential zoning districts, operating largely without issue, for many years. Some of the cottages and houses have a rental history dating back to the 60’s with no recorded complaints. The Township planning commission and board have considered short term rental regulations at various times over the last few decades, however after much research, public comment, and deliberation, the concerns at that time didn’t merit moving forward. Throughout that time, most neighborhoods have existed with short term rentals, with little to no issues, which seemed to validate the officials of that time’s decisions. Several Lakeshore HOA’s have their own strict regulations, or rules regarding STRs which have probably contributed to the lack of issues and complaints.
Simply put, Port Sheldon Township does not presently have an ordinance that speaks to short term rentals. Considering the recent prohibition of STRs in Park Township, and fairly strict regulation in Grand Haven to the north, we currently stand without the tools needed to manage existing and potential new STR’s that might be attracted to Port Sheldon. Contrary to some of the media’s reporting and some online reactions, the township is not intending to create an ordinance to allow for a barrage of short term rentals. One of the key considerations for such an ordinance is to help ensure there’s a balance between allowing STRs, while also keeping the interests of all property owners in mind.
Over the last several years, the planning commission and Township board have responded to resident concerns regarding the possible proliferation of STRs. They have engaged in appropriate research, listened to public comment, and have conferred with legal counsel to consider regulation that proactively addresses concerns with STRs before they become problematic.
The Concerns and the Proposed Ordinance
Most of the concerns revolve around the potential nuisance issues, such as parking, noise, and lack of respect for adjacent private property owners. The draft ordinance versions being considered by the planning commission addresses not only the valid concerns of potential nuisance issues, but also the health and safety concerns such as, illegal and overcrowded bedrooms that have no means of egress, lack of proper smoke, or carbon monoxide detectors, and living quarters in accessory buildings, etc.
While no STR ordinance is perfect or a one size fits all remedy, please recognize that the Township board and planning commission are doing their best to be proactive, responsive, and transparent in preparing for the potential challenges that come with living in the best township in West Michigan… possibly the world.