Overflow crowd speaks out against the move to outlaw Airbnb and Vrbo listings in an idyllic lakeside community.
Lake Township, MI — In a packed-out, standing-room-only gathering, a tide of community voices rose in protest against a contentious proposal by the Lake Township Planning Commission to put a damper on short-term rentals. The public hearing at the Sleeper State Park Outdoor Center saw an overwhelming majority of attendees voicing their disapproval of the proposed zoning amendments.
Short-Term Rentals of Cottages Targeted
Changes to the Lake Township Zoning Ordinance are at the heart of the fiery dispute, including a proposed prohibition on short-term rentals in all but B-1 Local Business and RB Residential Business zones. In a township renowned for its lakeside charm, the proposed ban on platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo, used by many homeowners to offer short-term rentals, has ignited widespread concern.
Critics pointed to a lack of enforcement of existing ordinances, blaming township personnel and resources shortages. The failure to enforce blight ordinances was highlighted, suggesting an underlying problem with the township’s capabilities.
Locals also expressed the benefits brought by the short-term rental market. Previously dilapidated and rarely used cottages have seen a resurgence, refurbished by local carpenters and tradespeople. Short-term rentals have not only revived the appearance of the township but also bolstered local businesses.
SRTs Have Given The Upper Thumb A Economic Boost
A local shop owner who was on the verge of selling her business revealed how the upturn in short-term rentals has buoyed her enterprise. “Most of my customers are new to the area and renting nearby,” she said, suggesting the positive economic ripple effect of the STR market.
Those against the proposal also pointed out that issues like overcrowding, noise, and parking weren’t exclusive to short-term renters, and long-time owners were also culprits.
Some residents claimed the township previously encouraged STRs. One woman cited a 2013 meeting with the planning board where she was assured no ordinances were preventing her from using her property for short-term rentals.
Instead of an outright ban, some attendees proposed the introduction of a small tax or yearly fee on short-term rentals. Such a measure could be revoked in cases of complaints about a specific rental property, ensuring accountability while still allowing the practice to continue.
Lake Township Was OK with SRTs, In 2013
It was also noted that many had invested significantly in buying and refurbishing properties for short-term rental purposes, largely due to the lack of any prohibitive ordinances as per the township’s confirmation in 2013. With their livelihoods potentially at stake, these property owners are preparing to fight back, with one individual revealing plans for a lawsuit against the township.
As the battle over the future of short-term rentals in Lake Township rages on, the local community’s strong response sends a clear message to the Planning Commission: they’re not going down without a fight. No new information has been posted on the Lake Township website or if another hearing will be held.