This letter is a response to the Chester Selectboard meeting on Sept. 6, the six-month moratorium on any new unhosted short-term rentals (STR) on any existing or a new property purchase not registered before Oct. 1, 2023. This is an overstep of power, and a threat to our personal property rights. nstead of waiting for necessary facts needed to make a decision, they decided moratorium first, and facts second. This is putting the cart before the horse.
Selectman Arianna Knapp repeatedly used the word “pause,” instead of “moratorium,” as if we were all fifth graders. Chair Arne Jonynas commented that if people buying houses don’t want to buy because they don’t know what the rental rules will be, then maybe they are not the kind of citizens we he wants in Chester. Is he defining what a good citizen is?
Audience comments were, a short waiting period, to ensure that the short-term rental is compliant. Concern this would affect the ability for someone to sell their property. A buyer could buy and still not know what the board would impose at the end of the six months. What if one needed the short-term rental until they retired to Vermont, or a young person needed the short-term rental revenue to support a mortgage, or people need extra income to pay property taxes and insurance?
Long-term rentals are often destructive and intrusive to neighbors, forcing lengthy evictions. We know from experience. Not an issue for short-term rentals.
Questions asked: How many complaints have been made on short-term rentals? How many for all properties? Is this about low-income housing? Without viable sustainable jobs, it will never be affordable. Economic development should be the priority if we want to keep the young people we have and attract others.
Do they help support the Chester economy and jobs? Do they help owners take better care of their property? Guests rate the owners, and owners rate the guests. What about pets? Many STRs allow pets, while most hotels do not.
The bottom line is that the natural ebb flow of the economy will resolve this perceived problem. Expressed was that the increased number of short-term rentals, increased pricing, and decreased post-Covid demand has driven occupancy down.
My husband and I live in Chester. We are both now 69. We have a short-term rental on our family property properly registered. Guest taxes bypass the owners and are sent directly to the State of Vermont.
Bob and Dawn Brown