Officers in Stonington are contemplating a moratorium that may halt the conversion of downtown waterfront business buildings into residences because of fears that Airbnb-like trip leases might overrun the island city’s business heart.
There’s a rising concern within the fishing group that storefronts alongside Stonington’s harbor might convert into short-term leases till all that’s left are trip properties used just a few months of the yr.
The city created a activity drive in December to look at the problem of the profitable leases, which soak up about $2.8 million yearly in Stonington, and ponder potential methods to keep up a yr spherical group.
Linda Nelson, the top of the duty drive, proposed enacting a moratorium that may forestall altering the primary flooring of a business constructing on Foremost Avenue into residential with the intention to protect the city’s enterprise district.
“Proper now, the best and finest use of property in Stonington is [vacation rental] housing and that endangers loads of our conventional business properties right here on Foremost Avenue,” she mentioned. “We’re attempting to maintain our first-floor business properties business and permit housing on the higher flooring.”
The darkening of Foremost Avenue has been occurring for years. About 55 p.c of properties within the downtown space are actually owned by non-residents.
“Now we have already gone fairly a far means down the slope,” Nelson mentioned. “It doesn’t assist us to have a city be darkish for 10 months of the yr and solely busy in July and August.”
The interconnected problems with housing and a dwindling workforce are alarming for city officers. They’ve seen housing for employees evaporate within the pink sizzling actual property market, pushing an increasing number of individuals who work on the island to the opposite aspect of the Eggemoggin Attain.
There isn’t any longer a faculty bus run that goes downtown because of a scarcity of scholars. One choose board member additionally mentioned youngsters don’t trick or deal with within the coronary heart of city anymore as a result of there aren’t sufficient individuals at hand out sweet.
Even when the city can block Airbnbs from infiltrating Foremost Avenue storefronts, there are nonetheless issues that short-term leases will value out island employees, prompting the duty drive to recommend a number of different proposals that purpose to keep up and generate extra housing choices.
Together with the moratorium, the duty drive additionally really useful making a registration for all rental properties, a payment construction for several types of leases, a attainable cap just like the one applied in Bar Harbor, and re-establishing the victualer’s license for mattress and breakfasts and inns.
Although the duty drive believes in all 5 suggestions, it introduced them to the Choose Board a la carte. It needed to offer the board the pliability to choose and select totally different choices and have the power to tailor them how the board noticed match.
Nelson harassed that the duty drive isn’t attempting to outlaw short-term leases. Renting summer season cottages has an extended historical past on the island, and tourism is a vital piece of the city’s financial system.
However many really feel that the scales have tipped out of stability, which might result in additional hollowing out of the island.
“When somebody is available in they usually’re shopping for — particularly a number of properties — for funding functions, all they’re doing is popping round and attempting to lease it for the best and finest prices that they’ll get,” mentioned Evelyn Duncan, a Choose Board member. “All that cash regularly leaves the island … That doesn’t pay for any individual to maintain a grocery retailer open full time. It doesn’t pay for the pharmacy to be open.”