Talbot County Council will be holding a public hearing on changes to the county’s Short-Term Rental Laws. While Talbot County is made up of many different areas and is regulated by varied zoning districts, Short-Term Rentals are treated the same whether on a 50-acre farm or a quarter acre lot. Because of this, a request was made to the Council to create two classes of Short-Term Rentals, a request which so far has been ignored.
The Talbot Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing to review the Council changes and make recommendations on July 1. Many of Talbot’s full-time residents living in Bentley Hay, Rio Vista and the many Villages have expressed the need to protect their densely developed neighborhoods.
The Planning Commission could consider dividing STR’s into two classes of license, an idea that was submitted to the County Council President, Planning Commission and County staff. This is not a proposal to ban STR’s but would help separate and make more sense than the current one size fits all approach. The Planning Commission can make those recommendations to the County Council. Creation of two classes would fulfill the original purpose of home sharing by homeowners. Also, this would allow second home owners to earn extra income to help with expenses.
Some may say limiting STR’s is an infringement on a property owner rights, but what about the property rights of a neighbor who invested in a residential neighborhood and suddenly finds his quality of life substantially degraded by living next door to a commercial lodging operation? Living next door to STR can range from mildly concerning to completely life altering. STR’s in residential neighborhoods are a quality of life issue for residents, their rights should not be subservient to the economic benefits of a limited few.
Remarkably, almost half of Talbot County’s voters live in our incorporated towns where tight STR restrictions protect them. (Easton only allows STR’s if it’s a principal residence). It’s time our County Council (who all live in Easton) take action and give the rest of us the same protection that they enjoy. Let’s hope the Planning Commission agrees. If you think an STR is only for vacation homes think again, the law allows a STR anywhere with the only criteria of a three-day lease.
Robert Haase St. Michaels