David Cavanaugh of suburban boston

Shown at left at the April 27 Conway selectmen’s meeting is short-term rental owner David Cavanaugh of suburban Boston, who now heads a property owners group that plans to attend next Tuesday’s meeting. At table from left: Steve Porter, John Colbath and Dave Weathers. (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO)

CONWAY — On Friday, the town released hundreds of notices to short-term property owners, informing them that such rentals must be owner-occupied.

The letter, signed by code officer David Pandora, says, “We would prefer to achieve voluntary compliance as opposed to an enforcement action. Please let us know your position within 30 days of the date of this letter.”

The letter is the result of an April 13 town vote in which a majority of residents opted not to alter town zoning to explicitly allow short-term rentals in residential zones.

Proponents of short-term rentals say they should still be legal under existing zoning.

There are about 523 short-term rentals in Conway.

On April 28, Conway Town Manager Tom Holmes, whom selectmen appointed to be their spokesman on the issue, issued a statement in which he said the town was planning to release a letter stating that “if people are still offering homes for STR in a residential zone and they have not received a Certificate of Occupancy for an owner-occupied tourist home, then they are in violation of our zoning ordinance and could eventually be subject to court-ordered fees and fines.”

However, a copy of the letter shared with the Sun did not spell out what the penalty for being out of compliance with the town’s zoning ordinance is or what will happen if a property owner doesn’t get back to the town within 30 days.

It just says, “If you have an owner-occupied short-term rental in one of the town’s residential districts, and you have not received permission from the town, please contact the town’s Planning Department.”

The letter goes on to say there is another process for town approval of short-term rental facilities in the town’s commercial zones.

On Friday, Holmes said the letter — which begins, “You are receiving this letter because you have been identified as the owner of property located in the Town of Conway and being offered for rent as a short-term rental” — is now being mailed out.

Selectmen are scheduled to meet next Tuesday at Conway Town Hall at 23 Main St. at 4 p.m. The meeting will be accessible via Zoom. And representatives of a group of over 1,000 STR owners and proponents say they plan to be at the meeting.

“The Mt. Washington Valley Association for Responsible Vacation Rentals has been established to represent the rights of homeowners, visitors, independent contractors servicing short-term rentals (STRs), businesses, and the many people of Conway who support responsible vacation rentals,” said a statement shared with the Sun on Friday by the association’s president, David Cavanaugh.

“Our membership currently is over 1,200 and increasing daily. A board of directors has been formed, led by President David Cavanaugh. Our association will be represented at the next selectmen’s meeting, Tuesday, May 11, 2021.”

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(4) comments

Moose

Sounds like lobbyists for the hotels greased the palms of the town's committee members.

rkt10

I don't own property in No. Conway; I own in a different NH town supported by tourism. It seems to me that No Conway is fiddling with your policies in a way that could have unintended consequences on property values for year round residents. And even your economy in general. Owners have purchased these units and have found a way to offset carrying costs by renting them out. Maybe many of them have bought multiple units. If you suddenly forbid them to rent them, then they're going to dump them quickly and buy in other towns (like mine). The effect will be to depress the real estate market in No. Conway. And that will depress the value of real estate for all property owners, not just for these vacation rental unit owners.

I suggest you think long and hard about the regulations you want to pass. What is the great benefit to them? Renters cause no fundamental harm to No. Conway. In fact, they bring their vacation dollars with them.

DavefromConway

Time to sue.

Vallygirl

"We would prefer to achieve voluntary compliance as opposed to an enforcement action." Of course they don't want to use the courts, because they don't have a case. The letter doesn't even say what law or zoning the renters are breaking. Trying to call a residential rental a commercial bussiness is just silly. If a Judge ruled that rentals are banned in Conway that would ban ALL rentals. Month to Month, Seasonal, International Workers, Longterm and Short Term. What is that going to do to affordable housing and young families?[thumbdown]

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