ROCKPORT — With opinions flying about Rockport crafting short term rental rules, along with an architect’s suggestion to get informed advice before diving into a redevelopment plan for the RES land on West Street, combined with a request from a Camden business owner to establish a pop-up clothing trailer at Rockport Harbor, the Select Board faces a multi-faceted meeting Monday evening, July 27.
And, the board will allow for any comments on the 2020 Annual Town Meeting warrant set for voters Aug. 18, (See attached board packet for full warrant). And, the meeting will end with a closed door session to discuss a personnel matter.
Rockport’s 33-article warrant includes two citizen-petitioned articles, land use ordinance articles, a $6,4 million municipal budget, business articles, plus a nonbinding referendum asking voters if they support a ban on the use of Consumer Fireworks in the Town of Rockport.
This public hearing is required by state statute to be held at least 10 days prior to the vote which is August 18.
Over the past weekend, a political mailer (see images for its full wording) arrived in the mailboxes of residents, urging voters to oppose the two citizen initiatives that call for limits on hotel rooms in the downtown zoning district, and new parking rules that call for traffic studies. (See images for warrant articles 3 and 4 for full article wording).
The mailer, however, lacked any disclaimer, leaving residents wondering who mailed the message, and why they did not sign their names.
According to Rockport Select Board Chair Debra Hall, the mailer did not originate with the town, and she had no idea who sent it.
Short term rentals
The issue of establishing short-term rental guidelines for the Town of Rockport has been gaining steam, and though an ordinance has yet to be crafted, already a wide range of opinion has been submitted to the Select Board.
Two weeks ago, Town Manager William Post held an informational gathering meeting via Zoom with Rockport property owners, seeking their opinions on short-term rentals. A follow-up conversation by the Select Board will take place this evening, with the following summation that was provided for the board by Chair Debra Hall.
SHORT TERM RENTAL OPTIONS FOR SELECT BOARD CONSIDERATION July 23, 2020
- Short term rentals (STRs) are defined as less than 30 nights.
- Short term rentals can be either owner-occupied or non-owner occupied.
- Short term rentals, whether owner-occupied or non-owner occupied constitute a business.
- The majority of STRs, and the majority of the demand for them in Rockport, is east of
- the Route 1 corridor. Should regulation apply only to property east of Rt. 1? If extended, how should the extension be identified and defined?
- The Select Board believes there is more widespread support in Rockport for owner- occupied STRs because: (a) the owner is present to supervise the behavior of guests; (b) because the owner still resides on the premises, there is less change in the character of the neighborhood (less loss of “community”); and (c) by definition, the rental is carried out by a full-time or part-time resident as opposed to a STR investor.
- Registration – While it is not the intent of the Select Board to suggest any intrusive or expensive regulation of owner-occupied STRs, the Town has a legitimate interest in knowing what STRs exist so that they can ensure that basic requirements, such as those below, are being met. For this reason owners offering STRs should be required to register with the Town. (Note – registration simply informs the Town that the owner is engaged in the owner-occupied STR business. This should be differentiated from an application or permit in which the Town has to accept or deny the practice.)
- Parking -- Concern has been expressed about parking for all STRs, including those that are owner-occupied. Consequently, STRs should be held as closely as possible to the same standards as businesses. Essentially this would mean that they need to have designated off-street parking.
- Safety – Because the owner-occupied STR is occupied by the owner it is presumably safe for habitation. However, because the owner is, in fact, renting to a third person for income and is conducting a business in the Town of Rockport, the Town has the authority to inspect the property, or in lieu thereof, to require that the STR owner execute an affidavit that they have provided / met minimal basic safety requirements.
- Non-compliance – No property owner should be permitted to evade properly passed ordinances. Should a STR ordinance be passed by the voters, there should be a monetary penalty for non-compliance with the ordinance and / or a suspension or prohibition from engaging in the owner-occupied STR business for a certain period of time.
Non-Owner Occupied Options
The following are possible options for Select Board consideration for non-owner occupied STRs. This list is not intended to be exhaustive and other options may be proposed and considered. The order of listing is not intended to reflect any suggested preference of one option over another. The options are not mutually exclusive – more than one option might be combined with another.
Prohibit of Non-Owner Occupied
1. Prohibit all non-owner occupied STRs.
- Ratio -- Permit existing STRs as long as they comply with the ordinance requirements, and require that before a new one is permitted an existing one must first go out of the STRs business. This option would be aimed at capping the existing number of STRs. Other municipalities that prefer to reduce their current STR stock apply a 2:1 ratio, whereby prior to permitting one non-owner occupied STR, two must first go out of the STR business. This would address the overall number of non-owner occupied STRs in Rockport but not the concentration of them in particular areas.
- Density Cap(s) – Another option aimed at controlling the density of STRs is to include in an ordinance the ratio of non-owner occupied STRs that can exist in relation to the number of residential dwellings by a defined area or district. This would avoid a concentration of STRs in, for example, the downtown district or the Village, or a particular residential area.
- Distance Restrictions – Another density option identified by Town staff is the ability to permit STRs only if they are not within a certain distance of another non-owner occupied STR. This would avoid a concentration of STRs in a given neighborhood.
Duration of Stay
5. Duration – The Select Board has already indicated its preference to disallow non-owner occupied STRs of less than 7 nights.
Frequency of STR Rentals
- Cap # of Rental Nights –Cap the number of nights that an owner can rent a non-owner
- occupied STR in a calendar year (e.g., 30 or 60 nights). While no STR beyond the cap would be permitted, traditional rental of 30 or more nights would not be affected.
- Cap + Lodging Categorization – An alternative to be used with capping the number of nights is to not prohibit rental as a STR in excess of the capped nights but to require that any STRs in excess of the cap be permitted as a traditional lodging businesses, subject to all applicable requirements of one (e.g., business tax on personal property, inspections, proper zoning, Planning Board approval, etc.)
- Nothing would prevent an owner from renting on a 30 night or more basis.
- Any of the above non-owner occupied options would necessitate a permitting process.
- Parking restrictions as applied to own-occupied STRs would presumably apply to non-
- owner occupied STRs.
- While the owner-occupied STRs are presumably fit for habitation because the owner is
- residing there, that is not the case with non-owner occupied STRs. These STRs could be subject to inspection for health and welfare by the Town like any other lodging business to reasonably assure the safety of the renters.
- Penalties for non-compliance would apply as with owner-occupied STRs.
Two weeks ago, on July 9, the RES Redevelopment Committee reconvened after a six-month hiatus, courtesy of COVID-19. The RES committee had been tasked with producing ideas of what to do with the 7 acre parcel on West Street that is owned collectively by the taxpayers of Rockport. It is currently home to a ball field, an outdoor movie screen, and is used by the community for a variety of other purposes, including exercise classes and learning how to ride bikes.
In late February, the town received a proposal from Allen Insurance and Financial, of Camden, has to build a commercial building at the currently undeveloped property at the corner of Routes 1 and 90 in Rockport, where the former Rockport Elementary School (RES) once stood.
The bid to develop the town-owned property was filed by company president J. Michael Pierce on Feb. 24.
Pierce, on behalf of Allen Agency, Inc., was the only potential bidder to submit a development proposal to the town by an extended deadline date of Feb. 28; in January, the Rockport Select Board approved a recommendation by the RES Redevelopment Committee that the town reopen a request for proposal (RFQ) period from Jan. 14 to Feb. 28, for interested parties to submit plans for a mixed-use development on the property.
The committee met July 9 via Zoom, and while there are no minutes of that meeting, and it apparently was not recorded, new member Stephen Smith reported that he suggested to the committee that it slow down and gain insight from landscape architect Terry DeWan, of Yarmouth.
According to Town Manager Post: “At that meeting, the Committee voted to recommend that the Select Board invite a Land Use Consultant/Planner, Terry Dewan, to hold an educational session for the committee and Select Board, at no charge to the town, to help envision various pathways to achieve the towns “principles of development” for the site. Board member Cole can provide more detail to the Board on this discussion.”
Smith said he is urging the Select Board to invite the public to this meeting with DeWan.
Peddlers Permit at Harbor Park – Barefoot in Denim, LLC, Jannel Johnson Pendleton
Jannel Johnson Pendleton, owner of Barefoot in Denim, LLC has submitted a Peddler’s Permit Application to locate a 6’x10’ trailer at the Marine Park on Thursdays, wrote Post, in his memo to the board.
“Her application is included in the materials and a map detailing where she is proposing to locate the trailer. The trailer would be removed when not open. She has been in contact with Harbormaster Abbie Leonard concerning the location and activity. Ms. Pendleton will be virtually attending the meeting to answer the Board’s questions.”
Pendleton has also approached the Town of Camden to establish a pop-up trailer in that town, as well. Camden is considering establishing a retail market at the Tannery Park, on Washington Street, on Fridays. Town staff is currently soliciting opinion from business owners on that venture.
Rockport Select Board July 27 Meeting, Full Agenda
- PUBLIC MEETING -
Rockport Select Board
Monday, July 27, 2020 – 5:30 p.m. Streamed at https://livestream.com/Rockportmaine
Please note: Due to the pandemic, the Select Board has been authorized by the state to meet remotely. At this meeting, the Board will be using a videoconference format.
Public comments or questions should be sent to the Town Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or can be provided remotely through the livestream of the meeting.
- Call Meeting to Order
- Public Hearing
a. Receive Public Comments on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant Articles
- Town Manager’s Report/Update
- Public Input on Non-agenda Items
- Public comment should be directed at issues not under discussion on this evening’s agenda. Comment from the public will be welcome prior to each agenda item. Further comment will be granted only by permission from the Board. All public comment should be brief and to the point.
- Amendments to the Agenda
- Consent Agenda
- Meeting Minutes:
- ➢ June 26, 2020 Select Board Executive Session Meeting Minutes
- ➢ June 30, 2020 Select Board Executive Session Meeting Minutes
- Harbor Committee Bylaws
- Meeting Minutes:
- Action Items
- Act on Planning, Use and Development Fee Schedule for Building/Land Use Permits
- Act on RES Redevelopment Committee Recommendation
- Act on Peddlers Permit at Harbor Park - Barefoot in Denim, LLC, Jannel Johnson
- Act on Ballot for MMA’s Legislative Policy Committee
- Discussion Items
- Discuss Keep Maine Healthy Grant
- Discuss Short-Term Rental Options
- Announce Future Meetings, Office Closures, Etc.
- ➢ August 10, 2020 – Regular Select Board Meeting - ROHA
- ➢ August 18, 2020 – Elections – Town Office Closed
1 Select Board Agenda July 27, 2020
- ➢ August 19, 2020 – Select Board and Organizational Meeting – ROHA
- ➢ September 7, 2020 – Town Offices Closed Labor Day
- ➢ September 14, 2020 – Regular Select Board Meeting - ROHA
- Select Board Liaison Reports
- Executive Session
a. Convene in Executive Session pursuant to 1 M.R.S. Section 405(6)(A) to discuss a Personnel Matter
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