B&B Ordinance Heads Back for More Work

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

After several months of working on an ordinance that would address property owners who participate in home sharing programs like Air B&B, Town officials have sent the proposed ordinance back to committee for more tweaking.

Many residents attended last Thursday night’s public hearing on the ordinance revisions. The old ordinance only addresses bed and breakfast establishments, which require a permit.

The new ordinance would require anyone renting out a room is to have a special permit. One revision called for anyone renting a room to provide a dedicated bathroom with a locking door. Another one called for allowing microwave ovens in the bedroom. A sign for the property would also be required, but not larger than three square feet. Also, for transient housing, no more than two rooms in a home can be rented out. A log, to keep track of guests would also be required.

Precinct 5 resident Linda Rand shared that Boston also requires a sign, but it is placed on the mailbox.

It was also pointed out that the Air B&B website tells people to check local ordinances.

“We’re most concerned with transient housing having smoke detectors and not allowing cooking in the bedrooms,” said Police Chief Terence Delehanty.

Fire Chief Paul Flanagan also chimed in that he was not happy with just allowing microwaves in the bedrooms. He said the code requires a dedicated circuit for the microwave.

“Cooking and bedrooms never have a good ending.” Flanagan said, suggesting that the microwaves should be removed. The microwaves were intended just so guests could heat up food.

Flanagan also noted that a bed and breakfast on Shirley Street was denied a permit because of a porch and there was no second means of egress.

“There are life safety issues with smoke detectors in every bedroom,” said Inspectional Services Director Al Legee. “Plumbing, fire and electrical all have to be signed-off on.”

Resident Michael Gorham questioned how many permits were going to be allowed in each precinct.

“What prevents 25 on a street, taking over the neighborhood,” he said. “I didn’t purchase a house here to be next to hotels.”

Resident Ken Goodwin, who participates in Air B&B, and has worked with the town on the ordinance said people are going to have to meet the criteria in the ordinance.

“This issue has taken over the country and the state,” he said.

The council voted to send the ordinance back for more work.

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