Property owner: Rule ruins rental business
Camden — An ordinance change in 2009 to require seven day rentals of houses, apartments or cottages is hurting owners, according to resident Steve Pixley.
"No one rents for seven days and, basically, you'll put me out of business," he told planning board members Oct. 3.
Pixely, who is also the town harbormaster, said he and his wife own a property on the east side of Hosmer Pond by Camden Snow Bowl and are required to rent it out on a seven-day basis when most people are more interested in a three-to-four-day stay. He suggested an amendment to lift the seven-day requirement.
"All you'd do is make an amendment to the definition of a dwelling unit," Pixley said, suggesting wording to the effect of "dwellings within a half mile of the Rural-Recreation District not subject to the seven-day rule."
Pixley's property is located in the Rural-1 District near the Rural-Recreation District, according to town zoning maps. The map shows only one area designated at Rural-Recreation — Camden Snow Bowl and adjacent properties.
Planning board members noted other lodging businesses in town might see lifting the restriction as an unfair advantage to the owners of rental properties.
"For several years, I've heard comments from people that own inns, bed and breakfasts, etc., and how the Internet has hurt their business," Planning Board Vice Chairman Lowrie Sargent said, referring to people using the Internet to locate vacation houses for rent.
"Obviously, I understand their concerns," Pixley said, adding he typically rents to people more focused on the outdoor activities in the area, a different clientele than would stay in-town.
He said he has been trying, unsuccessfully, to research how the seven-day requirement was added to the zoning ordinance in 2009.
Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson said he has to physically go through documents from 2009 to locate that information.
Planning Board member Richard Householder noted any ordinance change would likely not take place until June 2014 at the earliest but agreed, along with a majority of planning board members, the issue should be looked into. Planning Board member Richard Bernhard requested information about the number of residences in the Rural-Recreational zone that would be impacted by the change.
Lodging establishment owners that sat through the more than two-hour meeting were not allowed to speak by Planning Board Chairman Chris MacLean, who noted there will be ample time for input as the process moves forward.
"I don't want to cut you off but we don't even know if we're going forward with this," MacLean said.
Planning board members requested Wilson collect additional information to present Thursday, Oct. 24.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.