PETOSKEY -- Petoskey City Council members spent time Monday discussing some of the concerns that vacation rental properties can present for communities, and efforts that some other Michigan towns have made to address them.
"I think this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion," said mayor Bill Fraser. "I think we can continue to consider this and gather more information."
Council member Kate Marshall sought council discussion of the topic after it arose at another city meeting -- the annual 1st Ward convention in July.
"This for me, I guess, is really a quality-of-life issue," she said.
Marshall said she didn't intend to denigrate renters, but added that she would like to consider some of the questions associated with short-term rentals.
When one 1st Ward resident spoke up about short-term rentals in residential areas at last month's convention, he said the constant flow of different people has become a bit of a nuisance to neighbors and is turning his residential neighborhood to a hotel atmosphere.
On Monday, city manager Dan Ralley provided the council with some background about vacation rentals in Petoskey and several other Michigan resort communities.
"Vacation rental properties are defined as those that are leased by the week or up to the month, but as short as a weekend," he said.
Based on online listings he'd found, Ralley said he counted about 10 such properties offered for short-term rentals in Petoskey. That tally doesn't include Bay Harbor, where Ralley said short-term renting is commonplace.
In various communities, Ralley said short-term rentals have presented concerns relating to noise, trash, safety and parking.
He noted that several other Michigan cities have established regulations and restrictions on vacation rentals. Traverse City, for example, requires those properties' owners to have licenses and annual inspections, and has a limit of one vacation rental property in a 1,000-foot radius. Grand Haven also has requirements such as licenses and inspections, and limits vacation rental properties to the zoning districts near its downtown.
At the same time, Ralley noted that it can be difficult to regulate every rental of a property to vacationers, and that these properties present tourists with additional options for where to stay.
If Petoskey ultimately moves toward some type of ordinance regulating vacation properties, council member Tom Postelnick said he'd be concerned if public safety officers had to tend to enforcement along with the existing city rules they're responsible for enforcing.
"It seems like we're putting more and more on public safety, and we're getting away from the business of what they're trained for, which is fire, police and medical," he said.
Aside from public safety's enforcement responsibilities, Postelnick said he'd want to get more of a grasp of the concerns surrounding vacation rental properties before the city acts on them. He noted that Petoskey already has ordinances in place to deal with some of the specific concerns brought up.
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