CONWAY — A recent comment by local short-term rental operator Scott Kudrick that was published in The Conway Daily Sun prompted selectmen to explain why the town, out of all the property owners, chose to make him the face of the class action the town has taken to court.
Kudrick, a Conway resident who owns numerous STRs properties, is the defendant named in the town’s request to have the Carroll County Superior Court make a declaratory judgment to determine whether the town's current zoning law allows STRs.
“The selectmen were responding to a quote by Mr. Kudrick in one of the CDS stories regarding he not being sure why we picked him,” Holmes said.
The selectmen's statement, released by Holmes on Wednesday, said: "The board has received inquiries regarding the designation of Scott Kudrick as representative of the defendant class in the declaratory judgment proceeding. As explained in the town's petition, Mr. Kudrick owns or operates a number of STR buildings in both commercial and residential districts. He was deemed to be an appropriate representative of the class, and the town was confident that he would oppose the town's effort in court."
And as predicted, that is what Kubrick is doing.
An association of local short-term rental owners recently announced that a team of lawyers will defend them against a suit brought by the town of Conway. Mt. Washington Valley Association for Responsible Vacation Rentals has retained Mark H. Puffer of Preti Flaherty Law of Concord and Matthew R. Johnson of Devine Millimet Law of Manchester.
And, according to the association, its attorneys, described as experts in zoning, real estate and litigation, will also represent Kudrick.
Apparently, by going after a major player, selectmen believe they will avoid battling numerous individual property owners.
“As explained in the petition, individual enforcement actions would be unnecessarily cumbersome and expensive — both for the town and the judiciary," said the town's recent statement.
"The defendant class action will provide a resolution that is binding on all, and will the Board believes, confirm that STRs are prohibited in the Town of Conway’s residential districts.”
For its part, the STR association sums up Conway's petition thusly: "The Town of Conway is seeking a declaratory judgment to determine whether current zoning laws permit short-term rentals, which has been a long-standing tradition amongst ski families in the idyllic town."
Head of the association, David Cavanaugh, said that 47 percent of homeowners don’t have their primary residence in Conway and can’t vote in municipal elections.
“These part-time residents are ‘tired of being ignored’ and the association wants to find ‘common ground’ with the town,” he said.
In April, Conway voters turned down a change to the zoning ordinance, supported by all five selectmen, to allow STRs in residential zones provided they complied with an arduous permitting process.
Selectmen followed up the vote with a letter to STR owners saying short-term renting was not allowed, but the letter provided no details about when they would begin enforcement or what would happen if the owners continued to rent out their properties.
After the letter went out, many locals demanded they immediately shut down STRs. Others, predominately STR owners or users, asked for a grace period from enforcement. While not stated publicly, the town’s decision to go to court and wait for a decision amounts to just that. A decision from the court is not expected for months.