Berlin Planning Work Session On Potential Rental Regs

Berlin Planning Work Session On Potential Rental Regs
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BERLIN –  Berlin officials will host a work session next week to discuss potential short-term rental regulations.

A Berlin Town Council work session regarding short-term rentals is set for Monday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at town hall.

“We want to have a public work session so everyone can hear the information that’s being discussed,” Mayor Gee Williams said.

At the request of the town’s planning commission, town staff have spent the past several months researching short-term rental regulations in other communities and working toward drafting an ordinance that would work in Berlin. While the Coastal Association of Realtors has expressed concern regarding short-term rental regulations, as have some citizens, Planning Director Dave Engelhart stressed that the town needed to get something on the books.

“We are not trying to prohibit or promote this,” Engelhart said last month. “We’re trying to have an ordinance — we don’t have any at all — and kind of catch up to the 21st century here.”

Williams said that since staff began researching the issue, the town had received input from many residents with a broad range of opinions.

“What we’re trying to do is find a median between the ideas,” he said. “Something that would be appropriate for our town.”

He said the town would need to define exactly what qualified as a short-term rental, what zoning district such rentals should be permitted in and then decide on parking, licensing and inspection requirements. Officials will also need to determine what should happen when there are violations.

“My hope is by the end of the work session we’ll come to agreement so staff can put together a proposed ordinance,” Williams said, adding that the public would have a chance to comment on any ordinance once it was introduced.

He added that by implementing some regulations on short-term rentals Berlin would be able to retain its character.

“We don’t want our bedroom community to become an extension of the coastal resorts,” Williams said. “I believe we can find a responsible middle ground…. Doing nothing, I think, is very irresponsible.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.