Francestown approves regulations for short-term rentals

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/22/2022 12:59:06 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 12:58:47 PM

Francestown residents can now apply for a permit to have short-term rentals of their property, such as Airbnb or HomeAway, after the town adopted a conditional use permitting process Tuesday.

Planning Board Secretary Sarah Pyle said the board unanimously adopted conditional use permit regulations following a public hearing. In March, the voters approved two separate articles pertaining to the new application process, the first of which was to allow the establishment of a conditional use permit process, as long as each of the allowed uses was approved by voters at Town Meeting. The second was to allow short-term rentals to be approved by conditional use permitting.

Pyle said that the town has been looking for more-streamlined processes for approving “minimally impactful” uses of property for several years, and looking at what other communities have done. One of those processes, she said, is conditional use permits.

The purpose of a conditional use permit is to allow certain uses that are not usually permitted in an area under the conventional zoning provisions.

“They allow for what we, as a board, considered sufficient oversight, without it being overly cumbersome to property owners,” said Pyle. “A big part of our thinking was, if it is an easier process, more people will do it.”

Pyle said at the time the board was developing potential conditional use permit regulations, there were multiple challenges going through the courts about the nature of short-term rentals through business models such as Airbnb, where people can rent a property for as short as a single night, and whether they should be allowed in residential zones.

“It made this the ideal candidate to put our toe in the water and see how this would work,” Pyle said. “According to zoning ordinance, there was no way to do short-term rentals. Now, anyone who wants to take advantage of this new trend can do so in Francestown, if they obtain the permit to do so.”

To obtain a conditional use permit, an applicant must fill out an application form and pay a filing fee. The Planning Board may attach reasonable conditions to its approval, if those conditions are shown to be necessary to meet the objectives of the ordinance.

The regulations require that the applicant show there is sufficient parking, adequate water and sewage disposal systems, that the property complies with the NFPA Life Safety Code, that the use won’t adversely affect neighbors or their property values and it’s an appropriate location for the use.

The fee for a conditional use permit is $75, plus public notice fees.

Pyle said the board is not discussing bringing forth any additional uses to be allowed by a conditional use permit for the upcoming Town Meeting.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaarI@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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