Charter change placed on Cape Elizabeth November ballot

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Residents will vote in November on a proposed Town Charter change that would require their approval for any Town Council decision that exceeds $1 million for a single capital expenditure.

The council approved the charter change by a 5-2 vote on Monday, July 9.

The change also allows residents to demand a recall vote on any ordinance passed by the council if signatures are gathered from 10 percent of voters – about 750 – within 20 days of the ordinance’s passage. If this is accomplished, the ordinance would be suspended pending the popular vote.

The previous provision stated that a binding citizen vote could occur only after the town clerk receives a petition signed by 10 percent of the registered voters asking to override a council-approved capital expenditure valued at more than 0.05 percent of the state valuation, or about $850,000.

The council also scheduled a discussion on rules governing short-term rental properties for a workshop at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6.

The Planning Board made several recommendations for the council to consider for regulating the use of short-term rentals: increase minimum lengths of stay, amend parking requirements and reduce limits on how many tenants are allowed in a dwelling based on lot size.

The board also recommended the council review the nuisance ordinance to see if that can help mitigate problems caused by short-term rentals.

Neighbors raised safety concerns about the constant changing of tenants at short-term rentals at the meeting – some calling for an all-out ban.

Town Manager Mike McGovern urged the council consider an emergency ordinance to address immediate problems stemming from a single short-term rental at 31 Lawson Road, which has had a history of complaints and police calls.

The property is listed as a low-liability company and advertises rentals for $1,000 a night, or $4,000 a week, McGovern said.

The council will hold several more workshops and committee meetings in the coming months before any ordinance is passed regarding short-term rentals, he said.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff