Camden Herald letters to the editor Jan. 7

Jan 07, 2021

Snobbery — Thy Name is Rockport Regs

Well, Rockport, the “fix is in.” First Selectman, Debra Hall, and her little band of regulators have most certainly succeeded in “pitting neighbor against neighbor” as they inexorably pursue massive, unnecessary short-term rental regulations.

They do so with incredible advantages. They have the editorial support of this paper. They have the town-financed newsletter to argue their case — most recently a four-page argument on the “need” for STR regulations. They have three selectmen — laser-focused on STR regs. They have John Viehman, vice chair of the town’s Planning Board, who, as an associate of this paper’s publisher, has special access to getting his views in print. And they have Debra Hall’s husband, Robert Hall — who serves on the town’s Ordinance Review Committee, and who, along with his wife and Selectman, Denise Munger, wrote an unsolicited, massive first draft of STR regs. With Debra at the helm, the STR owners are most certainly, the “little people” struggling against the forces of City “Hall.”

What is the “need” for these STR regs? Quite frankly, rank snobbery. Viehman is the poster boy for this argument when he complains about the quaint, Rockport village vibe being “sold” to visitors who stay in STR accommodations. He further complains about his discomfort with seeing strange cars and people in his neighborhood. Breaking news for him: this is called tourism. He then goes on to make the incredulous claim that he has a “property right” of undisturbed tranquility that equals the property rights of STR owners who are trying to fund the high cost of taxes and home ownership in Rockport by renting rooms to people from away. Some STR owners may lose their homes or their ability to live in Rockport, but in Viehman’s strange logic, that is less important than him being discomforted by strangers.

Hall’s argument for installing STR regs is indeed curious for a government official. After three hearings on the topic, one in-person and two by the very inadequate Zoom, she decreed that the zero-incident police report on STR complaints and the overwhelming number of letters and comments against STR regs are not as compelling as the lesser number of letters from those supporting the regs. Her rationale? The opposition’s input comes largely from, surprise — STR owners. Their views don’t count as much as those who are opposed to STRs! It gets better. Hall, apparently, has an ability to divine what citizens want. She states that, “behind the scenes” and not wanting to publicly challenge their neighbors, some residents “quietly and privately urge the selectmen to draft STR ordinances.” And curiously, especially for an attorney, she uses hearsay to advance her cause when she states, “In one case there are claimed to be more STRs on one village street than non-STRs.”

Contrary to this paper’s editorial view, regulation is a dirty word — especially when applied to a solution looking for a problem. The proposed regulations for Rockport are the brainchild of a small group of town officials, written in response to the hurt feelings of another small group of residents who, if given the chance, would regulate a ham sandwich. One can only hope that informed Rockport citizens will reject the hurtful snobbery of STR regs and keep the centuries-old vibe of this welcoming New England town.

Doc  Wallace



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Comments (4)
Posted by: Marsha Steinglass | Jan 11, 2021 14:16

Why has this letter been moved off of the front page, in the space where letters to the editor from January 7th, are displayed?  This actually happened within hours of this letter being posted initially.  The only way readers will get to see this important piece of information is by going to the Menu and seeking out the Opinion pieces. Recently, I sent a letter in response to a Village Soup article on the proposed new fire station in Rockport, which also included information on short term rental restrictions in Rockport, and it was listed under “comments” that day, and was buried similarly.  I know that the owner of the publication has definite opinions on the short term rental restriction issue in Rockport, but I respectfully request that the input of residents and readers who have a differing opinion on this topic is not buried by the Village Soup.

Marsha Steinglass, Rockport

Posted by: Jack Lane | Jan 08, 2021 07:00

Doc Wallace, very well said!  You are an impressive voice of reason!  Thank you!


Posted by: DALE HAYWARD | Jan 07, 2021 19:10

Did some of that influence come from "down the road a piece". My gosh, these regulators are spreading their own virus.

Posted by: Marsha Steinglass | Jan 07, 2021 12:52

Thank you, Doc.  Your letter is thorough and to the point.  We have just begun the fight, there is so much more to come because so much is at stake for us as homeowners in Rockport.  Marsha Steinglass

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