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Short-term rentals remain viable as amended ordinance fails

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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New Buffalo, MICH. (WNDU) - New Buffalo residents will be able to keep renting out their homes - at least for now.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the planning commission turned down an amended ordinance that would prohibit short-term rentals.

Real Estate Agent Dan Coffee said this was a good move.

“It’s much more complicated than anyone has been willing to talk about. One of the big complications is if I rented before - the zoning statute says this - and they have attorney reviews indicating this from the Realtor Association - those people can continue to do it. You can’t stop them,” Coffee said.

Some commissioners said the following about the zoning ordinance:

“Completely unfair in my mind.”

“We need to take a survey to see how the community feels.”

“It’s difficult to make a decision without more data.”

“There are steps we’ve missed out on.”

Some commissioners said they agree there needs to be more restrictions on rentals, but said they are not going through the process correctly.

“I’m at the meeting because I definitely want to voice my opinion and let the local municipality know that what they are doing is wrong. I think it’s really inappropriate for them to tell people what they can and cannot do with their homes,” said Resident Jessica Bryar.

Mayor John Humphrey said the city is not “banning” short-term rentals.

You can read his full statement here:

“Recent reports that New Buffalo is banning Short Term Rentals are factually untrue. These are nothing but continued smear and misinformation attempts by the real estate lobby and other self interested parties trying to prevent any regulation at all. We are in the process of rezoning of the City and making short term rentals a legal commercial property use. This will adjust where short term rentals are allowed to operate within our 2.2 square mile City limits. This is in order to create equity between full time residents and 2nd homeowners and to also create future economic stability and protect our school system. New Buffalo will retain its current approximate 150 Short Term Rental licenses...The Planning Commission Vote tonight was unfortunately driven by a relentless misinformation campaign and sympathy driven appeals in favor of private profits over establishing equity for the public good. The core issue , that the commercial use of property is not an allowed use in residential zoning was never properly addressed, nor was the City Council request to define short term rentals as a legal ‘Use’ in our zoning ordinance. This conversation has been ongoing for 3 years now and will continue but the New Buffalo City Council. Will continue to work toward establishing equity in our community for ALL residents, not just those with the loudest voices or with the greatest financial interests.”

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