Conway Breeders Oppose Short-Term Rentals | Local News

CONWAY – Selectmen has decided to start the enforcement process against hundreds of short-term rental landlords operating in residential areas of the city.

Several ordinances to authorize and regulate such rentals failed in the municipal elections on April 13.

On Tuesday, elected officials met in closed session with attorney Peter Malia of Hastings Malia in Fryeburg, Maine, to discuss how to move forward.

Conway City Manager Tom Holmes said on Wednesday that the board had cleared him to release the following brief statement:

“The selectmen have agreed to begin the enforcement process which, in Conway, begins with notifying landowners of the violations.”

Holmes added that the selectmen hope to have another non-public session with Malia next Tuesday. He did not say when the notices would be sent.

There are about 530 short-term rentals in Conway, which is down from pre-pandemic estimates of around 800. Holmes said that a few years ago, the town of Conway had the largest market in short term rental from the State of New Hampshire.

In this year’s town hall vote, Selectmen’s Section 3, which called for allowing short-term rentals in any area where a single-family home is permitted, failed at 1015-492.

Voters also rejected Article 2 on the mandate, which provided a definition of short-term rentals, 720-674.

However, section 6, allowing selectmen to regulate and authorize short-term rentals, passed 776-722.

Section 21, which would establish a trust fund to pay for enforcement, failed with 773 no votes, 706 yes votes. Section 22, which called for the trust fund to be endowed with $ 50,000, failed from 826 (no) to 655 (yes).

However, the noise ordinance (section 23) was passed by an overwhelming majority, 1298-188 (see related article). This new ordinance would apply to revelers as well as noisy vehicles and machines.

Conway Village resident Mark Hounsell told council on Tuesday they had to follow the will of voters who had given the council only one option. Hounsell spoke during the meeting’s public comment period before elected officials entered a non-public session to meet with lawyer Malia.

Over the years, Hounsell has been elected, state senator, county commissioner, and most recently a member of the Conway School Board.

“The only option,” Hounsell told the board, “is to immediately begin issuing cease and desist citations for violations of operating a commercial business in a residential area,” said Hounsell.

“Some may find it embarrassing. But until it changes, it’s the law. People have rejected any change to it.”

Hounsell admitted there would be a lawsuit if elected officials followed his advice.

“You initiate law enforcement, someone doesn’t like it, they have the right to sue,” Hounsell said. “You have a duty to defend. It’s not a bad thing. It’s an expensive thing. I’m sure of it.”

Hounsell asked the elected officials to listen to Malia on how to accomplish what they need to do, which is to enforce the city’s ordinances. He said the selectmen should not “pass the buck” by asking Malia to figure out their way forward.

“Thanks again for everything – you are doing a great job,” Hounsell added. “To disagree is not to dislike, you know, I love you all very dearly.

The Sun asked the New Hampshire Association of Realtors last week about Conway’s recent vote.

“Reasonable regulations are most appropriate as long as they are applied in a fair and consistent manner,” said President Jim Lee. “However, we don’t believe municipalities have the legal power to simply prohibit a landlord from renting out their residential property. The stakes are high as New Hampshire generates tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue from rentals. vacation. “

Josh Brustin, owner / broker at Pinkham Real Estate, told The Sun: “My hope is that elected officials don’t see the ‘no’ as a referendum for a total ban, but rather recognize that as a community we have need to get together and seriously think about what Conway’s future should look like.

“We need to address the lack of affordable housing and the resulting shortage of employees,” Brustin continued. “We have to think about the evolution of the sharing economy (short-term rental) and how to manage it to ensure the balance of our neighborhoods.

“We have to be careful not to treat the owners of second homes, who contribute a lot of taxpayer dollars while exerting minimal pressure on our infrastructure, as second class citizens,” he said.

“It is only when we are ready to deliver and use global solutions to manage growth that Conway will find the balance we all seek.”

Short-term rental operator Scott Kudrick told The Sun the impact on tourism of the vote would be similar to the closure of 18 hotels with 100 rooms.

“The average house has three bedrooms – and 600 units can no longer be rented, that’s 1,800 rooms with an average of two people per room,” he said.

He said the ripple effects will be felt in the local economy.

“I have spoken to several cleaners and contractors who are at risk of losing their livelihood and had no idea that such a vote was taking place and its potential ramifications,” Kudrick said.

What led to the vote began in August 2019, when Birch Hill resident Ray Shakir called for a community-wide discussion on short-term rentals as he said rentals caused problems. problems in his neighborhood.

On Wednesday, Shakir told The Sun, “The Internet has brought the practice of the local newspaper and word of mouth to international prominence; therefore, offering an important profit motive and exponent, to what was formally mainly used by relatives, friends and references, for the whole planet, thus sacrificing among other things the tranquility of the neighborhood.

“Despite the undeniable benefits to the city, such as increased trade etc., the practice is completely illegal and an insult to full-time workers,” Shakir said.

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