6520 Center Street, PO Box 68
Ellsworth, Michigan 49729
Phone: 231-588-6126
Email: bankstownship@bankstownship.net

June 2019 Public Hearing on STR

Banks Township Board Public Hearing
Short Term Rental Licensing Ordinance

Monday, June 10, 2019

  1. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Supervisor Thomas Mann. Present were Supervisor Mann, Clerk Donna Heeres, Treasurer Katy Postmus, and Trustee Tom Cooper. Trustee David Rasmussen was absent. Peter Wendling, Township’s Legal Counsel, PC Chair Don Miles and ZA David Muladore were present. Also present: Tina Sundelius, Janell Bates, Jennifer Belanger, Tom Cooper, Pat & Mark Megregian, Bill Ogle, Russ & Debbie Ulrey, Pam Harrington, Jennifer Barron, Bob Barron, Charles Dickens, Bruce & Michelle Merrifield, Al d’Entremont, Patty Niepoth, Heidi Cooper, Dave Heeres, Lynn & Greg Kirby, Mindy Kooris, Judy Bradke, Jayne Lynskey, Mitts Lee, Patrick McGuire, Shelley Hope, Sandy & Tim Pienta, Laurie Grear, Kevin Whitley, Joni Wieland, Pete Forster, Pat & Karol Mikula, Brad VanderArk. Supervisor Mann led the Pledge of Allegiance and gave the Invocation.
  2. Supervisor Mann gave background information on the reasons for the proposed ordinance and public hearing. He outlined the rules for addressing the Board. He informed the audience that the Board will be carefully reviewing all the comments, written and spoken, and will have further discussion with possible action on the proposed police power ordinance at the July 15, 2019 regular Township Board meeting.
  3. Attorney Peter Wendling gave an overview of the proposed ordinance stating short term rentals are a commercial use, possibly in a non-commercial zone, and therefore parking regulations, trash and other restrictions are valid. The ordinance does not allow “grandfathering” of current uses and a new license is required if a new owner assumes ownership of the business. Also, current owners who are engaged in STR’s must obtain a license to continue their operations.
  4. PUBLIC COMMENT: Greg Kirby, Lore Road resident, addressed the Board stating STR’s are illegal uses in residential (R-1) and Conservation/Recreation (C/R) zones. He does not agree with allowing STR’s in the ordinance. Possibly on-premise owners should be allowed but not for absent landlords. STR’s negatively affect neighborhoods.
  5. PUBLIC COMMENT: Brad VanderArk, Eaton Road resident, addressed the Board stating his concern over too many ordinances and fees. Law enforcement can’t handle what we have. STRs should have registrations, not licenses. Township should concentrate on things like trash all over; go after the renter with a ticket not the owners. I should be able to rent out my property if I chose. We need to learn to live with our neighbors. “Board, Do the right thing.”
  6. PUBLIC COMMENT: Russ Ulrey, Iron Horse Trail resident, addressed the Board stating concern with the proposed ordinance that will create more paperwork and make the local agent the policeman. It is risky and unrealistic. Possibly require a deposit that is forfeited if there are problems. Our development made the roads extra wide to allow for additional parking along the roadways.
  7. PUBLIC COMMENT: Jane Lynskey, Lore Trail resident, addressed the Board stating she is a permanent resident and teacher. She appreciates the need for businesses to provide rentals for tourists. The large number of complaints surround noise and even the sheriff says noise ordinances are difficult to enforce. Private roads have residents walking for exercise and pleasure and are dangerous for them to walk with frequent STR drivers traveling too fast and often erratic. She feels frightened to have strangers in her neighborhood.
  8. PUBLIC COMMENT: Judy Bradke, Lore Trail resident, thanked the Board for addressing this issue. She has multiple complaints that are addressed in writing. She feels unsafe in her home due to the presence of STRs. She is concerned with the number of people allowed in the proposed ordinance, section 6a and 6f and section 7.
  9. PUBLIC COMMENT: Lynn Kirby, Lore Trail resident, stated is against STRs, period. Nothing is addressed on the time limit, no enforcement. Creates a business district. Who is to police the parking restrictions? Who will answer calls during the night? The local agent? I live in a neighborhood, not a business district.
  10. PUBLIC COMMENT: Mark Megregian, White Pine Drive resident, stated he has lived there 20 years. He is in favor of the ordinance as it supports what the White Pine Drive Association has had in place for 70 years with its covenants. He stated three STRs were in his subdivision and all were discontinued when the Association notified them of the violation of the covenants. He suggested allowing occasional non-commercial use/rentals for family members, etc. He asked, “what is a local agent really?”
  11. PUBLIC COMMENT: Jennifer Barron, Lore Trail resident stated she is new to the area but her parents have been property owners for 25 years, so she is familiar. She is a landlord. The concept that all renters are partiers is not true. Anybody can make noise. Most renters are responsible. She does not feel section 6b is reasonable to expect a response in one hour. Her neighbors do not want renters and relatively minor infractions have caused complaints.
  12. PUBLIC COMMENT: Al d’Entremont, Antrim Lane year-round resident for 25 years, his wife’s family has been in the cottage rental business for over 60 years. He is opposed to the proposed ordinance as it is “onerous”. “We have never had these problems, but you don’t know who may come in and create them. I am not a deputized policeman” and not able to enforce the rules. A three-month suspension of license and “there goes the season”. This is collateral damage.
  13. PUBLIC COMMENT: Tim McCarthy, property owner on Timberlane Drive for 22 years, has rented for 4-5 years. His friends and family are the only renters of his property. How many complaints occur each year? He is against the ordinance and states the penalties are too harsh. “Who are we doing this for? A handful of people?” “I don’t want to be collateral damage either.”
  14. PUBLIC COMMENT: Shelley Hope, Timberlane Drive resident and local agent for several rentals, stated “I deal with problems right away.” She is in favor of the ordinance. She referenced episodes of “hatred towards people” and said “don’t make it personal”. STRs are “good for all of us, good for our economy.”
  15. PUBLIC COMMENT: Michelle Merrifield, Farrell Road resident and landlord of a STR for 3 years. Reports having had wonderful experiences with the renters and is opposed to the ordinance. She stated long term rentals often don’t work out well but all of her STRs have. They stay 1-2 nights, no noise, no mess. “License is not fair, and suspension seems excessive.” “There are not enough STRs available in the area.” “Have had more problems with neighbors than renters”. Stated “Rep. Tristan Cole says you will always have complainers; don’t enact anything.”
  16. PUBLIC COMMENT: Bruce Merrifield, Farrell Road resident, stated is totally against the proposed ordinance. “Neighbors are no longer neighborly.” “Ordinance is too far overboard; micromanages too much.” Torch Lake Café Business Owner James Hettinger, sent a letter with him stating he is “in favor of STRs without restrictions and regulations.”
  17. PUBLIC COMMENT: Mitz Lee, realtor from Charlevoix for 30 years, is not in favor of restrictions and cited the great economic benefit. He understands the parking issues and too many people in the rental.
  18. PUBLIC COMMENT: Judy Bradke presented an anonymous letter she had received in the mail, opposing STRs. Content summarized below with letters.
  19. PUBLIC COMMENT: Tim Pienta, Timberlane Drive resident, stated his experience is less than satisfactory. When he has talked with the owners about problems with renters, he was told “not my renters”.
  20. PUBLIC COMMENT: Heidi Cooper, Essex Road resident, stated she has been renting since 2011 and the renters value the community and contribute to the economy.
  21. PUBLIC COMMENT: Peter Forrester, Rushton Road property owner and landlord, stated his experience has been more trouble with long term renters than short term renters.
  22. PUBLIC COMMENT: Pat McGuire, Business Owner in Atwood, stated he has issues with STR ordinance in that it can’t be enforced and gave examples of Milton Township and Torch Lake Township not being able to enforce their ordinances.
  23. PUBLIC COMMENT: Pam Harrington, Antrim Lane resident, her grandparents were born on Doctor Road, deep family roots in community. She rents one cottage for 6 weeks a year and has had good experiences. She is an on-premise landlord. She stated she is sorry for others who have experienced a “frat house atmosphere”. She encourages her renters to participate in local events and support local businesses. She has had positive feedback.
  24. PUBLIC COMMENT: Dave Hill, Businessman in Atwood, stated he has had more problems with long term renters than short term renters. He encouraged the township to take care of problem people, not restrict the whole thing.
  25. Public Comment was closed at 7:22 PM.
  26. Attorney Wendling asked the Board to go over all written correspondence and send a summary to him. He summarized possible amendments to the ordinance regarding non-owner occupied vs owner occupied; enforceability enhancements and resources to use regarding local agent; the object of the draft ordinance with minimal regulations and a municipal civil infraction could be issued for repeat violations and as a last resort when other measures to remedy problems have failed. He stated STRs are a commercial enterprise.
  27. Supervisor Mann thanked the audience for their comments and providing input for the Board’s considerations. He stated action on this proposed ordinance will not take place until July 15 meeting at the earliest.
  28. Summary of Letters received for the Board’s consideration: a) James Hettinger (#16 above): Allow STRs without added restrictions and licensing. b) Jennifer Barron (#11 above): Equal regulation for renters, guests, and homeowners; 24 hour availability & 1 hour response is extreme; consequences for fraudulent complaints; consequences of violation seem excessive & out of line; requirement to post the local agent is violation of privacy and is not safe; tax regulation is State not Township authority. c) Don & Donna Schmeichel: Timberlane Drive: do not support the ordinance; STRs are good for local business; differences in their subdivision include year round residents, seasonal residents, weekenders in addition to STRs; penalties too harsh; vigilante neighbors “policing”; have “plus 2” policy beyond bedroom occupancy; no license required unless year round enterprise. d) Evana & Jack Radlowski: Timberlane Drive: agree with fair rules & regulations; against ordinance as difficult to enforce; legal consequences for false or exaggerated complaints; regulations (noise, trash, speed limit, dog/leash, fire hazard) should be for all properties not only STRs; shared beach issues; economic benefits of STRs. e) Rick & Kathy Luther, Timberlane Drive: opposed to STRs; “if rent more than three weeks a year is running a business.” One license per owner/family should be instituted. Limit on number of days per year can rent. Any profits over expenses should be considered a business and treated as such. Need limit on number of licenses allowed per 500-100 feet. Occupancy limit needs to include day guests. More than 10 is an “event”. No more than 3 vehicles per rental. Waste out on pick up day only. Firepit rules and quiet times need to be added to regulations. f) William & Melissa Regan: Timberlane Drive: landlords for 4 years; reported “problematic issues from neighbors” towards renters; “current document disregards the rights of the homeowner who rents their home”; what about “harassment” from neighbors towards “guests in our home?”; “ordinance is short-sighted” and “needs to address the issues that are concerns for all residents” with “same rules for everyone”; “bias” from small group has been “at times aggressive” and “creates divisiveness in our community”. g) Anonymous Letter from owner of beachfront home for more than 30 years: asked that Ordinance clarify definition of bedroom, require septic system inspection and rating for occupancy, require safety inspections of electrical system, structural issues, smoke, CO2 detectors, adequate lighting, require neighbor notification of application with comment period before a license is issued, add clause about “nightly beach bonfire safety”. h) Russ Ulrey, Iron Horse Trail resident (#6 above): put the issue on the ballot to legalize STRs and then whether to license/regulate them. Can’t please everyone. i) Judy Bradke, Lore Trail resident (#8 above): all STRs have same complaints: noise, traffic, no health/fire inspection required, trash, parking, not paying taxes on income generated, insurance company not aware home is rented, some not allowed due to covenants/deed restrictions. Residents should never feel unsafe in our homes. Several recommendations for additions to proposed ordinance related to definitions, occupancy, minimum of 7-day rentals, duty to remedy complaints, prohibition of many types of gatherings. k) Karen & Norman Grannemann, Timberlane Drive owners, former renters, now landlords, rents their property to friends for only two weeks a year. Neighbor to 2 STRs with non-resident landlord. There is a difference between full time income property and a casual rental to help with expenses. Ordinance does not fix the real problems. l) Bob Slaski, Timberlane Drive owner & landlord of two STRs: Primary issues noise and disturbance. Critical that rules apply to everyone. Agent response time is onerous. Penalties are extremely excessive. Ordinance will promote the current “vigilante” atmosphere. STRs are good for the economy. Many renters chose to buy a second home here after renting a few seasons. Township should continue with the publication of the nearly completed “Good Visitor Rental Guidelines” and follow Charlevoix’s STR registration process instead of adopting an ordinance. Should have a noise ordinance instead. If adopt a STR ordinance, allow +2 persons beyond the bedroom occupancy to allow for a sleeper sofa, eliminate any restrictions that are not applicable to all residents, eliminate requirements to pay State taxes, change response requirements, change penalties. m) Jennifer Carroll, White Pine Shores resident: Our Association has restricted all STRs. Traverse City now requires licenses for vacation home rentals. n) Denise & Dominic Moceri, Timberlane Drive residents: Most landlords are doing a good job now. Issues such as speeding, traffic, loose dogs along with noise, fires, persons per bedroom, trash on beach, someone on site to handle problems do need to be addressed. o) Mike & Julie Werkema, Timberlane Drive owners: Support a noise ordinance rather that STR ordinance. Gave specifics about a downstate township that adopted a STR ordinance and subsequent problems caused by long term seasonal cottage owners that are not regulated by the STR ordinance. “Rude behavior between neighbors is not dependent on who is paying the mortgage.” p) David & Barb Maynard Bersuder, Pachakee Trail 35 years: Strongly opposed to STRs for profit but in favor to allow to offset costs of maintaining and continuing ownership. Number of days allowed to rent, number of permits per owner were questioned. Definitions of License holder and resident’s complaint were questioned. Suggest additions to application form to include rental dwelling insurance policy, compliance for septic, building, fire & life safety codes, proof of compliant fire pit. Question regarding “after the fact” fee being the first violation. Suggestions regarding occupancy, minimum stay (suggest 4 nights); add waste & recycle disposal regs; add Quiet Hours. “How does Township learn of violation?” “Does this mean the Township is also available 24/7 to notify the license holder and/or local agent to comply within 60 minutes?” “How is it determined if the violation is handled within 60 minutes?” “How and to whom do the immediate and or nearby neighbors make a complaint?” Suspension/Revocation section seems contradictory. Disruption of tranquil community, septic system overload, use of non-biodegradable cleansing body products were cited as negative effects of STRs. If allowed, restrict to 2 persons per bedroom including children with minimum stay of 4 nights. Regulations on trash, firepits and quiet hours. q) Peter & Edna Ballantyne, Lore Road owners: Proposed ordinance is inadequate, ambiguous, allows one-night rentals, has no recourse for surrounding homeowners to deal with problems. Visitors don’t all know how to treat sensitive areas appropriately. STRs harm property values. Homeowners “deserve to have our interests represented, certainly more so than the interests of a very small portion of the populations seeking to acquire homes for the primary intent of renting them out on a short-term basis.” If an ordinance is adopted, it should “contain a requirement that the homeowner is present, or minimally, lives locally and close to the rental”. Have a noise ordinance. STRs on Lake Michigan be no less than 7 days. Limit the number of occupants and guests. Include clear recourse for anyone negatively impacted by a STR to rectify issues and violations timely and effectively. r) Karen Brandner, Timberlane Drive owner for 40 years. Have never encountered any issues with renters of the 9-10 rental houses in the neighborhood. Proposed ordinance is attempting to address issues that do not seem to be present. It opens the possibility of future lawsuits, new harsh restrictions could negatively affect property values, we should be able to rent our personal residence without harsh restrictions. s) Louis Wojtowicz & Donna Sowers, Lore Trail residents: opposed to STRs in residential areas. Neighbor has access across their property, it is not extended to their tenants. Last year, one rental had five cars that drove through the property several times a day. Concerns re: enforcement, illegal rentals and noise ordinances that have not been enforced. t) Laurie Grear, Timberlane Drive owner: Opposed to STRs entirely. Ordinance is vague, occupancy limits must be enforced. Timberlane Drive covenants prohibit businesses: are STRs businesses? Should not allow daily & weekly rentals u) Arnold Burtney, Rushton Road: Ordinance not necessary as creates a burden on local homeowners. Support a noise ordinance. v) Greg & Lynn Kirby, Lore Road residents: (#4 & # 9 above) STRs are not allowed in the Zoning Ordinance and are against our deeded properties. “Since STR are not listed as a permitted use, we expect enforcement of ordinance and stop all STR.” “Our lives & property values have been negatively affected by this illegal business activity.” w) Barb & Sam Dorchen, Timberlake Shores owners: Support an ordinance to limit short term rentals. Also support quiet time rules observed by Michigan State Parks. x) Cindy Unger, Timberlane Drive owner & landlord: Rentals help pay non-homestead property taxes. My rental agreement is detailed and addresses most of the issues outlined in the ordinance. Fee schedule should be tiered based on occupancy and rental season. STRs do not decrease property values; improve them if properly maintained. “People need to be considerate on both sides.” y) Nancy McQueen, Timberlane Drive owner: Too many STRs, excessive traffic, noise late at night, overcrowding of shared beach. Renters should not be allowed to use the shared beach. z) John & Elizabeth Schneider, Timberlane Drive owners: “when an individual owns more than one STR in a neighborhood, then it would appear to be a business. One family should own only one STR.” License holder should be the owner. Parking should be limited to three cars. Trash cans on the road for only a 24-hour period before and after pickup. Need a standard regarding campfires and fire pits. Aa) Lee & Julie Wollgast, Timberlane Drive residents: Fully support ordinance. It addresses the 3 key elements: registration, local manager & enforcement ability. Problems have been noise, speeding, parking and trash. Bb) Sandie Nobach, Timberlane Drive resident: Supports the ordinance and hopes it can be amended if new issues arise. Supports requirement for collection of sales taxes with payment to the State. Cc) Michael & Jayne Lynskey, Lore Trail residents: (#7 above) Opposed to ordinance and STRs. Proposed ordinance has too many loopholes & issues. STRs are not a permitted use in CR zone in zoning ordinance. Tourist homes are allowable in zoning ordinance. STRs are “businesses, generating taxable income, and therefore they would again contravene the Township’s own zoning ordinance for the allowable uses of a residence i.e. Section 4.12.1.” Dd) David & Barbara Bersuder, Pachakee Trail owners over 35 years: Strongly opposed to STRs for profit but in favor to offset costs of maintaining and continuing ownership. Number of days allowed to rent, number of permits per owner were questioned. Definitions of License holder and resident’s complaint were questioned. Suggest additions to application form to include rental dwelling insurance policy, compliance for septic, building, fire & life safety codes, proof of compliant fire pit. Question regarding “after the fact” fee being the first violation. Suggestions regarding occupancy, minimum stay (suggest 4 nights); add waste & recycle disposal regs; add Quiet Hours. “How does Township learn of violation?” “Does this mean the Township is also available 24/7 to notify the license holder and/or local agent to comply within 60 minutes?” “How is it determined if the violation is handled within 60 minutes?” “How and to whom do the immediate and or nearby neighbors make a complaint?” Suspension/Revocation section seems contradictory. Ee) Tim & Sandy Pienta, Timberlane Drive residents: (#19 above) Ordinance may need revisions from time to time as issues arise. Need it implemented. Ff) Heidi Hornaday & Erik Beers, Lore Trail owners: Strongly oppose Ordinance and want current zoning ordinance enforced (prohibit STRs). Gg) Maureen Frey, Timberlane Drive resident: Not clear what zoning districts allow by right or special land use. If not specified, then use is prohibited. Proposed ordinance does not do enough to protect non-renting owners. Must do something to prevent the saturation of the neighborhoods with rental units. Non-renting owners have different goals than renting owners. Township needs to prohibit STRs or create enforceable restrictions on STRs within residential neighborhoods. Hh) Stan, Flora & Melinda Kouris, Pachakee Trail: Urge to set up an ordinance that requires a two-week minimum stay and limits the number of overnight guests based on bedroom & bathroom facilities. Also, owners be responsible for complaints, not management company. Quiet time hours protect environment & community for future generations.
  29. The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Donna L. Heeres, Banks Township Clerk