Berlin Revising New Rental Ordinance Due To ‘Error’

Berlin Revising New Rental Ordinance Due To ‘Error’
A screenshot of the Airbnb website this week shows available short-term rentals in Berlin.

BERLIN – The town’s short-term rental ordinance is set to be reintroduced next week after an error was identified in the initial version.

Though the Berlin Town Council approved a short-term rental ordinance this spring, the Berlin Planning Commission agreed to forward them a new version last week. The new ordinance, which is expected to be introduced at the Aug. 22 council meeting, will correct language mistakenly included in the previous version.

“It was an error,” said Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director.

Engelhart told the planning commission that when the town council approved the ordinance creating short-term rental regulations for the town, language permitting short-term rentals in permanent residences in all districts was included. The council only meant to ensure that short-term rentals in the R-1 and R-2 single family home districts were in permanent residences. He indicated that the language was mistakenly included because there were changes made to the draft being reviewed when it was approved by the council.

The ordinance in front of the planning commission eliminates the language stating that short-term rentals are permitted in permanent residences in the “R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, B-1, B-2 and B-3 Districts.” It is replaced by language that makes it clear that short-term rentals in the R-1 and R-2 districts need to be in permanent residences.

“It separates the single-family home districts, the way the mayor and council intended, from the other districts where we are going to permit short-term rental units,” Engelhart said.

When asked about the current licensing procedure, as the new short-term rental regulations took effect July 1, Engelhart said he’d not yet issued any licenses. He said he’d received about a dozen applications but was waiting for the ordinance to be updated before he began the licensing process.

“The first thing is I would have to schedule an inspection of each premise asking for a license,” he said.

He’s going to work with the inspection firm the town already uses to ensure each property is reviewed.

“They’ll be inspecting for the fire code too,” he said.

Engelhart said the council was expected to host a first reading of the ordinance Aug. 22 and a public hearing on Sept. 12. The ordinance would take effect 20 days after that.

“That’ll give us time to have licenses ready for people who are going to get them,” he said.

The commission voted 4-0 to forward the updated ordinance on to the council with a favorable recommendation.

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.