UPDATE: Petition circulates in Rockport to get short term rental ordinance onto June municipal ballot

Sun, 02/21/2021 - 7:30pm

    UPDATE — In talking with Rockport citizen Doug Cole this morning, Feb. 22. he said it wasn’t a secret that he is one of the original creators of a petition to get the short-term rental ordinance on Rockport’s June Town Meeting ballot.

    “I had the energy to get it started,” he said. “I have very strong feeling that town voters get an opportunity to vote this up or down, and to keep it off the ballot is a voter-supression type of thing,” he said. “I don’t have a strong feeling either way about the ordinance itself, but want it to go before the voters. It just seems to be the right thing to do.”

    The number of signatures that he knows of is 35-40, which is what he knows of at this point.

    He wasn’t sure if the Select Board would discuss the petition at this evening’s meeting.

    ROCKPORT — On Feb. 8, the Rockport Select Board voted 4-1 not to place a proposed short term rental ordinance on the June Town Meeting ballot, as originally intended. On Feb. 19, a petition asking the board to reverse that decision was submitted to the Rockport Town Office.

    The petition has been submitted in anticipation of the Feb. 22 Select Board meeting. It is not known how many signatures have been gathered.

    Select Board Chair Debra Hall, who worked to draft the proposed ordinance with Vice Chair Denise Kennedy-Munger, said at the Feb. 8 Select Board meeting that although she felt that the voices of the community could be best represented if the ordinance were put to a public vote, she felt that it best that the board table the ordinance for the time being.

    “We have gotten to a point where the rhetoric and the temperature on this issue is so hot that I think it’s in the best interest of the town to cool the temperature down, so I support tabling [the ordinance]” said Hall at the meeting.

    But proponents of the ordinance subsequently circulated a petition asking for signatures. It it not known, yet, who drafted and circulated the petition. 

    The language reads: “We, the undersigned residents of Rockport, request that the Select Board place the ordinance regarding short term rentals on the June ballot, thereby giving all town residents a chance to vote on the matter.”