Berlin To Revisit Short-Term Rental Regulations Next Week

Berlin To Revisit Short-Term Rental Regulations Next Week
An aerial view of Berlin is pictured. File Photo

BERLIN – The town’s elected officials will begin reviewing potential short-term rental regulations Monday.

The Berlin Town Council will hold a work session Monday evening to discuss short-term rental regulations. Though the issue initially came up in 2019, officials delayed addressing it when COVID-related attendance restrictions were in place at town meetings.

“They thought it was too important to not have a lot of public input,” said Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director. “We’re picking the topic back up Monday.”

Town staff began researching short-term rental regulations in other communities in 2019 at the request of the Berlin Planning Commission. Though the Coastal Association of Realtors and some residents expressed concern regarding regulations, officials said the town needed to have something on the books. Engelhart worked with David Gaskill, the town’s attorney, to review the short-term rental laws in place in other jurisdictions. They eventually created a draft ordinance but with the onset of the pandemic it was never discussed by the council.

“We had done a lot of work leading up to the draft,” Engelhart said.

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Now that attendance restrictions have been lifted at town hall, officials are set to finally review and discus the draft ordinance created last year. As proposed, it would permit short-term rentals in the R-1 and R-2 single family residential districts only in a property owner’s permanent residence. The ordinance defines permanent residence as a unit in which the owner resides “for an aggregate of at least 180 days annually and the dwelling unit carries the official designation as the owner’s principle residence in accordance with the criteria governing the State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation Homestead Tax Credit Program.”

The ordinance would also permit short-term rentals in the R-3 and R-4 districts and the business district where dwelling units are allowed.

Engelhart said he hadn’t received any complaints regarding short-term rentals in town but was aware that there were several in existence.

“I don’t think it’s as widespread as people think,” he said.

The council will hold the short-term rental work session Monday immediately following its regular 7 p.m. meeting.

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.