Published August 15. 2020 08:46AM
The Penn Forest Township supervisors will discuss zoning and regulation of short-term rental properties during a special meeting Monday night.
The supervisors plan to take input from the public and discuss possible future regulations for the rentals. While in-person attendance at the meeting will be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, the supervisors plan to broadcast the meeting live online using Zoom.
“We’ll all be there in person with as many people we can legally let into the building. If you have something you want to say, put it in an email and send it to us. We’ll be monitoring the chat on zoom,” said Christian Bartulovich, a Penn Forest Township supervisor.
The township currently has no regulations for short-term rentals, and they aren’t specifically addressed in the zoning ordinance.
But several other townships in the Pocono Mountains have adopted regulations for short-term rentals in recent years because of the growing popularity of listing websites like Airbnb and VRBO.
Those websites list hundreds short-term rentals in the Pocono area, including Penn Forest Township.
Bartulovich said that he would like to see the township officially allow short-term rentals, in part because they are an important part of Carbon County’s tourism economy.
Many renters visit local tourist attractions, and Carbon County collects a three-percent hotel tax on short-term rentals.
“If we consider the state of the economy in Carbon County, given that it’s tourism-based, I think it would be fundamentally unfair to take away (homeowners’) ability to make money in the tourist trade,” Bartulovich said.
Bartulovich said he does understand that there are some residents who are concerned about loud parties and fireworks. He would rather address those issues through specific ordinances which would apply to everyone, not just short-term renters.
Many of the short term rentals in Penn Forest are located in private communities with homeowners associations. HOAs have the ability to create their own regulations and fine homeowners who violate them. Bartulovich said it makes more sense for HOA boards to decide if they want to restrict short-term rentals, if there is a large number of residents who oppose them.
Rick Cordsico, a Pocono Mountains realtor who also manages short-term rentals, said many parts of Penn Forest are good for short-term rentals because of the area’s tourism economy, and the large number of part-time residents.
“We don’t have enough hotels to satisfy people,” Cordisco said.
He said there is at least one township which has completely outlawed them, Pocono Township in Monroe County, but they don’t have near as many part-time vacation homes as Penn Forest.
Most of the townships in the Poconos who have created short-term rental regulations allow them with some conditions, Cordisco said. Jackson Township requires homeowners to consent to inspections, and limits the number of guests a home can have at one time. Tunkhannock Township limits the number of cars in a driveway.
“To just restrict people – restrict is fine, but the people who are not allowing a homeowner to rent their home short term – to me that’s unfair,” Cordisco said.
Cordisco said homeowners need to be responsible and screen their renters to prevent loud parties and other disruptions for neighbors. He said regulations which continue to allow short-term rentals would enable the township to hold accountable those who rent irresponsibly.
“Unfortunately, the whole saying ‘a few bad apples,’ there are some bad apples who squeak through and cause trouble. That’s not fair to the neighbors either,” he said.
Monday’s meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Penn Forest Township Municipal Building, 2010 State Route 903, Jim Thorpe.
Attendance will be limited to 25 people.
More than 100 people have already registered to attend online. Advance registration is available on the township website.
Comments will be accepted through the chat feature on the zoom meeting. People can also email comments before the meeting to email@example.com.
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