Cape Elizabeth committee suggests limits on short-term renters

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A Town Council subcommittee is recommending the town cap the number of tenants and guests allowed to inhabit seasonal home rentals.

The Ordinance Committee has discussed the issue since last fall. Its unanimous decision last week sends the discussion back to the full Town Council. 

The recommendation is to limit the number of rental tenants to 12 per home, and their guests to six.

The issue was raised in September 2011, when residents in the Lawson Road area complained about nearby rental properties causing traffic, noise and safety problems. The Ordinance Committee was charged with looking at ways to reduce the impact of rental properties on neighbors and held a series of public meetings.

The committee, then made up of Councilors Jim Walsh, Frank Governali and former Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta, met over four months to clarify the definition of a rental property; decide what an application process should require, and consider boundaries for events, rental periods and density issues.

Walsh remains chairman of the committee, with new members Councilors David Sherman and Kathy Ray.

Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said the recommended restrictions apply to properties on lots less than 30,000 square feet, or where the property owner is not living on the same lot or on a lot abutting the rental property while the house is being rented. 

“Even thought it has been discussed for a while, it is still the beginning of the process,” she said. “Ordinance amendments are not taken lightly.”

The Town Council is expected to discuss the committee’s recommendation Monday, Feb. 13, at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at Town Hall.

O”Meara said the recommendation must still be reviewed by the Planning Board, there must be a public hearing, it will go back to the council and the Ordinance Committee could review it again if there are changes.

To view the draft amendments to the zoning ordinance, visit the town website and supporting documents from the Jan. 20 committee meeting.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.