(July 12, 2019) It’s back to the drawing board for members of the Worcester County Planning Commission, who needed more time to issue a recommendation on a zoning section of the proposed countywide rental license program.
Of the four pieces of legislation within the countywide rental license program, the zoning initiative has 17 sections that set requirements for the program. Tudor was tasked to update the bills’ language and streamline the overall process.
Tudor said it required a recommendation from the county’s Planning Commission.
Chair Mike Diffendal said he needed more time when discussing the matter during a meeting Wednesday.
“If I was forced to vote today, I would have to abstain, because I really don’t know what I’m voting on here in all honesty,” Diffendal said.
Tudor understood Diffendal’s dilemma, and said he’d be happy to allow the governing body more time as long as they made a recommendation prior to the public hearing during the Worcester County Commissioners’ Aug. 20 meeting.
The Worcester County Commissioners held a work session during a July 3 meeting and discussed all factions of short term rentals within the program.
Tudor said the short-term rentals are considered 28 days instead of 30 days because are because units are rented primarily on a weekly basis.
Planning Commission member Jerry Barbierri expressed his reservations “that there’s no inspection provision” included in the legislation.
Tudor said there’d be no mandatory inspections, and properties would only be inspected if there was a complaint issued.
Tudor also said the program would cover unincorporated areas in the county.
Additionally, several Planning Commission members discussed the possibility of incorporating a software program similar to Talbot County, which it uses to identify short term rentals.
Talbot County has been using Bear Cloud Software since June 2018 and is contracted to pay $1,250 per month for one year, according to Tudor’s memorandum. The software covers a variety of issues including licensing online applications and complaints.
“It also supports a very robust amount of data collection, information and reports about the rental properties themselves,” Tudor said in a January memorandum.
Conversely, Tudor noted anyone advertising any short term rentals would need to list the rental license number.
However, Tudor said the cost could be substantial, and the county spending at least $40,000-$50,000 per year.
County Attorney Maureen Howarth stressed the importance of correcting the code before moving onto educating the public and implementing a strategy.
“I don’t see us going down a path of having a complaint system,” Howarth said.
Planning Commission member Brooks Clayville moved to table the matter, which Planning Commission member Richard Wells seconded. The vote was unanimous.