Looking to get away for a quick trip? How about a “charming lakefront vacation rental?” Or a “captivating three-bedroom home with hot tub?” Maybe a “cozy bungalow upper flat in booming downtown New Baltimore?”
These are just a few descriptions of properties in New Baltimore listed on the popular vacation rental site Airbnb. For some, short-term rentals can be an affordable way to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy a vacation. But for others, a frequent turnover of guests at a neighborhood residence is a cause for concern.
New Baltimore resident Cindy Labellarte brought her concerns about short-term rental properties to members of the city council at their Aug. 8 meetings. She urged officials to regulate vacation rentals in the city, questioning how they might impact the community.
“I’m here to hope to convince you to have a city ordinance against Airbnbs in our city — our quiet, beautiful, little paradise on the lake and around the lake,” she said.
“We have very tiny lots where we live. They’re 55 feet. We’re all together, very small-knit, quiet community,” she added. “And I’m very concerned about what this would bring to our neighborhood.”
Labellarte said her concerns began after the home next to her residence on Lagae Street was listed for sale, and investment companies started looking at the property.
“These businesses are popping up — it’s a trend that’s happening in Chesterfield and Clay and in Algonac,” she told council members. “And when these little, quiet streets get Airbnbs, which is basically a motel, there are new people in and out every weekend.”
“We have very limited resources for parking as it is, and I’m very concerned,” she added.
Before speaking about the issue during public comments at the recent city council meeting, Labellarte also met with Mayor Tom Semaan and spoke at a planning commission meeting. After a discussion between the mayor and the chairman of the planning commission, the city attorney was asked to look into a potential ordinance regulating short-term rentals in the community.
“We’re in the process right now of looking at what an ordinance might look like — not obtaining one — we’re just investigating,” Semaan said. “The city attorney has advised me that there is language that we may be able to look at to move forward with. That’s all I know at this point.”
The city council will ultimately have the final say on any type of ordinance that may be brought forward, the mayor noted.
“That’s a ways down the road, but we are looking into it,” he told Labellarte. “So thank you for bringing this to our attention and making it something that we can be aware of, as well. And we take this concern very seriously.”
“I appreciate that,” Labellarte said.
Neighboring Chesterfield Township, another lakefront community, also does not currently have an ordinance regulating short-term/vacation rentals, township officials said.