Hanover residents divided at hearing on short-term rentals

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/22/2020 10:29:15 PM
Modified: 1/22/2020 10:29:09 PM

HANOVER — Residents appear sharply divided on whether the town should allow short-term rentals catering to visitors and property owners who use websites like Airbnb.

About 30 residents turned out Tuesday evening for the first of two “listening sessions” held by the Hanover Planning Board on whether to lift a 33-year-old ban on renting out rooms or homes on a short-term basis.

Many attendees acknowledged having used Airbnb or similar travel-related websites when visiting other cities and towns, but some residents worried that allowing short-term rentals would exacerbate a trend of second-home ownership in Hanover that is hollowing out some streets. Others said they could use the extra income to help pay their property taxes.

Planning Board member Iain Sim said town officials had considered the “character of the neighborhood” but that “hosts could be a moderating influence” on noise, trash and other inconveniences caused by unruly visitors.

Hanover defines short-term rentals as any rental of 30 days or less. Bed-and-breakfasts and hotels are currently allowed to provide these services because they submit themselves to inspections, while properties on short-term rental websites generally do not.

Planning Board Director Rob Houseman introduced two categories of short-term rentals. The first is a “hosted” short-term rental in which the owner of the property is “continually present on the lot during the rental” and the second is an “un-hosted” short-term rental in which, “the owner vacates and rents the dwelling” during the rental.

The Planning Board is considering allowing hosted short-term rentals in all residential districts and allowing un-hosted short-term rentals in the Goose Pond district, which has demand in the summer, as a test before broadening it to the rest of town.

Many in the room agreed on the need for special accommodations around the time of Dartmouth commencements because some families cannot afford to stay at local hotels to see their children graduate.

“I am not opposed to short-term (rentals) with constraints,” said Janice Fischel, 71, who said she has lived in Hanover since 1973. “So I think commencement and reunion housing where they’re ... accommodating families are great. I just don’t want to see (hosts) abused and I don’t want to see neighbors abused.”

Several attendees asked how short-term rentals would be monitored and regulated. Houseman responded that “the town of Hanover would need to contract with a third party ... for inspections and investigations.”

Sim added that hosts would be subject to New Hampshire’s 9% meals and lodging tax. Houseman reminded attendees that the town is still in the preliminary stages of drafting an amendment to the zoning ordinance and that nothing is finalized. Planning Board member Paul Simon thanked attendees for their “great input.”

“I understand where people are coming from, and I think in this community we don’t just want to provide investment properties,” Simon said.

Another session on the issue will be held on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Richard W. Black Community Center.

Rohan Chakravarty can be reached at rchakravarty@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

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