LUDLOW, Vt. – The Monday, Oct. 3 Ludlow Selectboard meeting was again dominated by discussion of a potential short-term rental (STR) registry, an increasingly fraught topic in a town that caters to both a year-round local population and a seasonal, visiting one. As discussions on whether to adopt the rental registry continue, more and more citizens have come forward to raise their voices in support of and opposition towards what could be a turning point in the Ludlow rental market.
In a town with a population of roughly 1,600 registered voters, Ludlow has over 500 Airbnb’s alone, according to data collected on airdna.co. With the number of long-term rentals dwindling, this has sparked debate amongst Ludlow citizens as to the role of the Town – should Ludlow regulate the number of STR’s in some fashion?
Earlier this year, the town created a Rental Registry Committee (RRC) to determine whether or not Ludlow was in need of a registry. At the previous, Sept. 12, meeting, Ryan Silvestri, on behalf of the RRC, told the selectboard that the committee had deemed a rental registry necessary for the town. Silvestri was also present at the Oct. 3 meeting, and stated that “We [the RRC] feel that we’ve done all we can do,” putting the decision before the board. A great deal of discussion from both the board and the citizens present ensued as the selectboard tried to come to a decision.
Also present at the meeting was a representative of the company Granicus, which the RRC has been working with and which may be subcontracted by the town to develop the registry, should the selectboard decide to proceed. Granicus has worked with several towns and cities in the U.S. to develop rental registries, and the representative was able to provide information regarding potential costs of STR permits, which could range from $250–$600 a year, as well as the amount of money that would be generated for the town, which she said was in excess of $215,000. Some citizens, however, are less enthused by the idea of a rental registry. “Who decides what the town does with the information?” commented one resident, who identified as an Airbnb host. “This really doesn’t sit well with me as a citizen.”
A member of the selectboard also made comments stating that they were uncomfortable with the idea of a registry. Robert Brandt of the selectboard said during the meeting, “We shouldn’t be telling people what to do with their homes.” However, Justin Hyjek, a board member who is also on the RRC, made the point that “We’re not here to debate, especially tonight, regulation. This is only about gathering information.”
No decision was made at the meeting regarding whether or not to proceed with the registry. The selectboard ultimately postponed the decision, as it was a “big subject,” and “very emotional.” “I don’t want to table it, but I don’t think we’re ready,” said Chairman Bruce Schmidt.
Despite its prominence at the meeting, the rental registry was not the only topic that saw discussion. The selectboard passed a motion to proceed with the demolition of Dorsey Skate Park, assigning the bid to Crown Point Excavation, LLC, for a sum of $14,000. Reconstruction of the skate park will most likely begin this fall. Also on the agenda was the lowering of the speed limit on Buttermilk Falls Road from 35 mph to 25 mph, which passed.
The selectboard decided to award the $2,437.83 Opioid Settlement given to Ludlow by the State of Vermont to the Community Ambulance Service. Some discussion was given to the idea of splitting the sum between the ambulance service and the Divided Sky and Turning Point foundations, but the board ultimately elected not to do so.
Finally, after a good deal of input from the citizens present at the meeting, the Ludlow Selectboard chose not to grant Okemo Mountain the two contract amendments the Mountain had requested. The first was to change their standard one-year lease to a five-year lease, and the second was to grant Okemo the Right of First Refusal to Stearns Pit, should the town decide to sell it.
The next Ludlow Selectboard meeting will be on Monday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.