Short-term Rentals (STRs) continue to be the topic of great interest in the Mt. Washington Valley. Just last week, the Town of Madison Selectmen had a meeting to begin discussion on how to regulate these homes as they watch the issues unfold in neighboring towns. Specifically speaking to the Town of Conway and also the Kearsarge Lighting Precinct (KLP) which have both found themselves at the forefront of lawsuits.
Several years ago now, the STR issue came to light in the KLP when the Precinct sent notices of zoning violation to several STR homeowners. At the time, it was the KLP’s belief that only owner-occupied homes could rent their homes for less than 60 days, but it had never been enforced. Fast forward to 2020, KLP Attorney Peter Malia of Hastings Malia in neighboring Fryeburg, ME, advised the KLP zoning board that the legality of the Precinct’s zoning articles for the past five years and maybe even longer were in question. This was due to the fact that the KLP had never formed a planning board, which is required entity to enact a zoning board. This has lead to several STR homeowners in Kearsarge suing the KLP, cases which are still pending today.
Meanwhile, the Town of Conway has since identified an individual to take to Carroll County Superior Court after the Town Vote in April failed to add STRs as a defined use in the town zoning. According to Town Manager Tom Holmes, Scott Kudrick of Conway was selected to represent the class of roughly 500 STR homeowners because he has several STR properties in town. Kudrick and the newly formed group of STR owners known as the Mt. Washington Valley Association for Responsible Vacation Rentals have retained attorneys Mark H. Puffer of Preti Flaherty Law and Matthew R. Johnson of Devine Millimet Law.
And after all this, now it seems that the Town of Freedom will enter the fray. Freedom Planning Board will be discussing STRs this Thursday at 7PM at town hall. At their Selectmen meeting on June 28th, it was agreed upon that STRs should be regulated but not eliminated. It is estimated that there are roughly 100+ STR homes in the town of Freedom.
This issue seems to be ever-changing and is likely to continue on in the MWV for years to come. As a REALTOR, it is my opinion that renting your property is a fundamental right of property ownership and therefore should not be infringed upon by any municipality. On the other hand, I do understand the issues that are raised about STRs, such as noise, septic overloading, and other life safety concerns in homes. I maintain the same position as the Town of Freedom: Regulation is the solution, not elimination. It is my hope that Freedom can be an example to surrounding towns of MWV and set reasonable regulations that will eliminate problem STRs but also recognize our financial dependence upon tourism!
If you are interested in becoming involved or supporting STRs please visit: https://www.responsiblevacationrentals.com/
And join their Facebook Page: MWV Association for Responsible Vacation Rentals