A community meeting addressing short-term rental concerns on Tilghman Island was held at the firehouse on Sunday, June 5. By 2PM over 50 concerned citizens had filled most of the seats provided, and more filed in as this well-attended and very well-organized meeting commenced.
Community concerns were outlined by Jane Hawkey; and Karen Allen, a resident of Tilghman since 1994. elaborated upon each of them.
Traffic has become a concern where she lives on Rude Avenue. With considerably more traffic on this narrow road and as many as several hundred visitors expected annually, residents fear for the future of their neighborhood.
Waterfront property is more modestly-priced on Tilghman, and commercial operators are buying homes. If just seven additional homes were approved for short-term rental, the neighborhood would become 43% STRs. One of these short-term rentals has already burned.
Resident Elise Davis’ new puppy insisted on a “potty run” at 2AM, and she saw smoke and flames next door. The renters from Key West had called 911, but their cell phones connected to emergency assistance in Florida.
Talbot County’s code for STRs was updated in 2020, and the county has two code compliance officers; but concerns, particularly for infrastructure requirements and density in neighborhoods remain. 115 STRs have been approved in Talbot County. 27 are on Tilghman, and more applications are scheduled for consideration.
Citizens were advised that a short-term rental review board meeting will be held on June 9 at 1PM at the Talbot County Community Center. One of those applications is scheduled for consideration.
Tilghman Island resident Leslie Steen introduced Scott Kane, chair of the STR review board and candidate for Talbot County Council.
His involvement in these matters was predicated by STR disturbances in his own Easton neighborhood four years ago; and his advice now includes becoming familiar with STR code and phone numbers and letting our county know of citizens’ concerns.
He also pointed out the advantages of short-term rentals, and those include additional income, and more recently, housing for visiting nurses. Negative aspects included compliance issues, neighborhood concerns, and and the oversight required.
Particularly timely was his reminder that the review board would be addressing only concerns related to applications being considered at the June 9 meeting. General concerns and policy issues are first submitted to the county council.
Three groups then formed to focus upon issues of transparency, enforcement, and commercialization. County council Vice President Pete Lesher and county council candidates Keasha Haythe, Jim Bruce, and Phil Jackson contributed to these conversations, but focused more upon becoming informed of citizen’s concerns.
Following 15 minutes of discussion, concerns were shared: Website issues were mentioned by all three groups. Other issues included the possibility of having more zoom meetings, the possibility of requiring STR owner occupancy (as in Easton), clarifying compliance issues, making the consequences of violations clear; and perhaps most importantly for Tilghman, developing metrics for density.
Participants left the meeting with a detailed sheet of instructions for contacting compliance officers and sharing their concerns with the county. And most, wishing to be kept informed, left their contact information with the meeting’s organizers.