Rolling out the Welcome Mat B&B Ordinance Proposal Stems from Community Input

-By Joseph Domelowicz

For the Transcript

Heeding the request and recommendations of a group of citizens and business owners who attended a recent Planning Board workshop on January 10, Planning Board member Peter Roche said this week that he is drafting a new ordinance would allow the establishment of Bed and Breakfast rooms as an accessory uses in single family homes where the B&B rooms would take up less than 50 percent of the home’s living space.

“This is really an example of planning coming from the community, where we had an idea that came to the committee at a public meeting and it has advantages for the homeowners and the business community,” said Roche, who hopes to offer the draft of the by-law at the next Planning Board meeting on February 15.

“The idea here is to allow the use as a reasonable compatible use to homeowners who own large single family homes and could use the extra income to help them maintain and afford their homes,” explained Roche. “At the same time, I think we see it as an economic development tool that can attract people who may want to visit the town for our beautiful waterfront and we can do it in a way that is doesn’t create a large impact on the neighborhoods where the homes are.”

Roche admitted that there are concerns about the by-law. He said the final draft will include a requirement to provide a parking management plan by anyone seeking a license, as well as provisions limiting the number of B&B rooms to two or three per home and the length of stay to no more than one or two weeks.

“Obviously, we want to ensure that these don’t turn into lodging or rooming houses, so we’ll limit the length of stay and also require that the homes be owner occupied, so that the property owners will have to be on site to manage the bed and breakfast,” he said. “Plus, these licenses will be an accessory use, not an as right zoning change and it will be renewable every year or two, so if a particular license holder is not performing and managing the property in the manner they had proposed the license can always be revoked or not re-issued for cause.”

Roche said he is hoping for an fairly quick process that would include a public hearing on the zoning change at a Council meeting.

“I’m hoping that we can have the draft before the Planning Board in February and once it gets approved there we’d forward it to the Town Council for adoption,” he said. “I’d think the Council could have a hearing on the matter in March or April and if everything goes well, we may be able to have it in place so that people who are interested in applying for the licenses could do so in time for the start of the new (spring/summer) season.”

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