Response To Mayor Will Come After Court Rules
I have read with dismay the many inaccuracies, misstatements, assumptions and untruths that have riddled the statements made by Mr. Meehan in recent days.
Since the Town of Ocean City has requested that the Court of Special Appeals reconsider their ruling that Nathan’s Associates is the owner of the land, I will respond after the Court renders its decision about the City’s request.
Short-Term Rentals Need Berlin’s Attention
I am writing this letter regarding short-term rentals (STR), such as advertised on Airbnb/HomeAway, which are located within the town limits of Berlin.
Are you hollowing out the core fabric of the town that brought people here in the first place by allowing STRs? Are STRs ruining small towns? Some small towns and cities have banned or put laws in effect for the sake of their towns and the people who actually live there. Specifically, some smaller Colorado ski towns.
If you Google STR/AIRBNB Berlin Md., there are at least 10 STRs in town that come right up. One person in the recent past was renting from a landlord and also putting his apartment on AIRBNB. I’m not sure what that was about.
According to some of my research, this is the way AIRBNB started in the US. The idea was to help homeowners keep their housing during the recent housing crash (2008 ish) when many were upside down in their houses. But now these companies are growing and making a lot of money at this and they are not concerned about the people who actually live in these cities and towns.
There are two types of STRs — one appears to be somewhat less destructive (but still not great) to towns than the other according to my research. People who reside in a home and are part of the community who then rent a room while also meeting clear guidelines and regulations such as the number of people allowed/noise etc. seem to be less destructive to a town then standalone STR’s. They can still be disruptive. Do we have laws, regulations, licenses, fees, etc. clearly prescribed anywhere? Do we have procedures and taxes to be charged in place for this kind of business? Do we even know where these so-called rentals are? I call this a business because that is what they are. Should these hotel-like STR rentals be allowed in residential areas?
The second type of STR are those owned by people who have opened and advertised short-term rentals who already owned, bought or built a house here in town, who may have even said they are going to live in it, and then turn around and rent it daily, weekends or weekly. Well that is a different beast. This type of STR can adversely affect the feel, environment and safety of a neighborhood. It also takes away from the long-term rentals available for those who actually live and work in the area. My guess is these people did not discuss this decision with their neighbors or town officials. They may have even done it covertly.
I remember when two different people years ago wanted to renovate two separate Victorian houses to be used as bed and breakfasts right in town, they were turned down because they were not in areas zoned for business. But yet now we have people putting people in what is a hotel-like situation in the middle of those same areas with no type of discussion with their neighbors or the town? That doesn’t seem right or smart for this small town.
My question to those living in town is did you buy your house in hopes that a revolving door of different people or a hotel-like situation would be right next to you? I did not and most of the people I know did not.
Some cities and town have outlawed this practice because it took away the “real” small town and made it a “façade” only. It took away housing for the people who lived and worked in the town.
Some towns only allow STR in certain areas. Some only allow so many in their town. Others say the people staying there have to rent for at least 30 days. STR stand-alone housing is a hotel type of business venture. Again I’m quite sure your neighbors didn’t think this type of “hotel’ would be next to them when they bought their home. Not in Berlin anyway.
Do you want a crowded fake tourist town or do you want to maintain a living breathing town? Some have just jumped on the band wagon as popularity rose in this town and are not considering what made this town popular in the first place. They either don’t know or they don’t care.
I brought this up about two years ago to someone in town government in the planning section and was told, “someone was working on it,” but I have not heard any further information or at least I am not aware of any changes or guidelines made regarding this issue. Meanwhile it keeps growing.
If you have concerns regarding this issue, please get in touch with the town council and let them know. Thank you.
Harris Betrayed Shore
In a time when our federal government is so divided by party and our farmers are being hurt by the trade war, it was great to see both sides of the aisle come together and pass the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the Farm Bill.
The bill does many wonderful things including providing permanent funding for farmers markets and local food programs, preserving a conservation program that pays farmers to strengthen conservation efforts on their farms and also expanding farm subsidies to encourage more people to be involved in farming. The bill also legalizes Hemp production which is a roughly $1 billion industry and secures $300 million in mandatory funding for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Those are just some of the amazing this new law offers.
That is why I was enraged after looking at how all the representatives voted on this legislation I noticed our Representative Andy Harris was the only Maryland Representative to vote no on this bill. Representative Harris’ inability to compromise and get legislative goals accomplished for the district led him to vote against a bill that overwhelmingly helps our communities and farmers.
As the Representative of an Eastern Shore majority Congressional district where farming is one of our biggest industries, it was nothing short of a betrayal that Dr. Harris voted against this bill and a clear sign that this district needs new leadership who will vote with our interests in mind in 2020.