Although the Town of Conway is waiting for a ruling from the Carroll County Superior Court regarding the issues of zoning and short-term rentals, it appears that town management is moving to enforce town codes specifically in STR properties.
On July 9th, Noreen McGrath of Kingston received a letter from Town of Conway Building Inspector, David Pandora, identifying her property at 310 Echo Acres Road in North Conway as having potential “life safety issues that need to be addressed”. Pandora went further to state that all “non-owner-occupied residential dwellings are subject to and must comply with all required life safety codes.”
The reason for identifying McGrath came about from an online listing of her home for rent. In the pictures, Town Management noticed that the basement sleeping area was potentially unsafe. Meaning that it lacked in emergency escapes and proper smoke detectors. The town not only monitors short-term rental sites like VRBO and AirBNB but also has begun using a program called Host Compliance. Host Compliance helps to inventory short-term rental properties and their exact locations, which is not shared on sites like VRBO.
Pandora, in his letter to McGrath, sites the International Building Code 2015 which has been adopted by the Town of Conway, and asked that a time be set up for himself and the Fire Department to complete “necessary inspections” at the 1970’s ranch. No such inspection had been scheduled as of August 2nd, though communication is ongoing between McGrath and the Town.
The Conway Daily Sun did ask Town Manager Tom Holmes if other letters had been sent out to STR owners. He said that on July 26th, three letters were sent to a Mr. Waldo Guevara regarding noise complaints at three of his properties located at 10 Landsdown Lane, 168 Old Goshen Road, and 462 Allard Farm Circuit. Mr. Guevara had yet to respond as of August 2nd and it should be noted that all three properties are actively being market as for sale.
Overall, it seems that the Town is continuing its pursuit of STR properties. However, now it looks like they are traveling down the path of regulation rather than outright elimination which had been the position they’d taken since the April town vote. Now, I believe it’s fair to say that STR homeowners would be happy to meet life safety compliance and even go through a licensing process to help regulate the few problem homes that began this problem. Unfortunately, we are now just dealing with the fallout of poor communication and lack of cooperation from both sides. It is my hope that STR owners, local homeowners, and town management can find common ground to regulate STRs. Elimination is NOT the answer.