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.”