Conway goes to court to limit Airbnbs, other short-term rentals

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The Town of Conway is taking its ongoing battle against short-term rentals to court. The move comes amid a heated debate over the role of Airbnbs and other vacation properties in the Mount Washington Valley.

City officials say the growth of these properties in residential neighborhoods has led to an increase in noise complaints and other disturbances. Others say rentals allow residents of the city to reduce an already limited supply of housing for local families.

Conway residents voted in April to reject new rules explicitly allowing short-term rentals in single-family residential areas, but they also voted to give the board of directors the power to regulate and authorize short-term rentals. term. Since then, as the Conway Daily Sun reports, it is still unclear when or how the city would move forward with this settlement.

In his new court application, Conway is not asking the court to close local short-term rentals operating in residential neighborhoods. Instead, he asks the court to confirm that the city has the power to do so.

Conway’s chief executive did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Attorney Russ Hilliard, who represents the city in the case, said the goal is to make it easier for the city to issue ceasefire letters and to refrain or pursue other coercive measures to shut down rentals that violate its zoning rules.

“It’s just that there are so many hundreds of them that it’s ineffective to deal with them individually,” Hilliard said.

Conway’s petition identifies a local short-term rental landlord, Scott Kudrick, but makes it clear the intention is to target “more than 500” people who he says are breaking his zoning rules. Kudrick, who lives in Portsmouth and owns several vacation properties in the Conway area, previously served on the town’s short-term rental review committee. He said regulating these properties, not banning them, would be a better approach.

“I think it’s an important right to be able to rent your vacation home and it’s a long tradition in our community for generations,” Kudrick wrote in an email to NHPR. “The loss of this capacity could have a negative effect on all owners, even those who are not currently renting, as well as having a much greater impact with unintended consequences for the entire valley.”

David Cavanaugh, who heads a newly formed advocacy group called the Mt. Washington Association for Responsible Vacation Rentals, said he welcomed the filing of the complaint as it will give him and other owners of outside of town, a bigger platform to weigh in the debate over short-term rentals at Conway.

“We can’t vote because we’re not registered there,” Cavanaugh said. “We are of course registered in our main residences. So this is the first time that we can make our voice heard.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the outcome of a recent municipal vote regarding short-term rentals. History has been updated to correct this information.

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