To the editor:

We have had our home away from home in Conway for over 25 years visiting three seasons of the year with the intent that we will live in Conway at retirement. We are recent STR providers for others who want to enjoy all the valley has to offer in the summer months.

We have never had any issues with our guests primarily due to the strong screening of our guests and detailed house rules — sent at time of booking and reinforced at check-in. We also have a camera triggered by motion (automatically sends video to our smart phones) covering our driveway that alerts us to activity enabling us to monitor the coming and going of guests.

We will not sell our home away from home because of any changes in the current STR practices — our home away from home is not dependent on the income from STRs. We do respect the need to establish STR governance to ensure the use of STRs doesn’t infringe on those who live year-round in the valley.

What we will no longer be able to is afford to employ local contractors and service providers who maintain and renovate our home on our behalf. Fortunately, we are handy and the projects will simply take longer to get done as our schedule permits. Additionally, we will no longer be able to employ our cleaner, Linda, for the summer months. She is a fantastic asset and partner in helping manage our STR and we’ve established a nice friendship.

We also are heavy users of STRs and intentionally have not stayed in a hotel for years. Hotels do not meet our needs respective to dining and living space. Over the last four-months we have utilized four different STRs for vacations and if necessary, go out of the way to use a STR versus a hotel. The impact of others like us needs to be considered respective to the economic impact to the valley.

In summary, we concur that governance on STRs needs to be established to be fair to all.  

Eleanor Conroy & Scott Reynolds

Franklin, Mass.

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(1) comment

steveduprey

While this letter points out some of the impacts of the the decision to follow the ordinance of Conway that does not allow STR’s in residential zones- a zoning provision that has been almost universally upheld by courts as a valid use of zoning power- and implies that the decision by Conway voters was unfair or bad, it fails to acknowledge the inherent unfairness STRs have over hotels and motels.

First, when STR’s are booked through third party sites like Airbnb, neither the owner nor 3rd party pay full room and meals taxes on the amount charged to the consumer, yet hotels and motels must do. Why do these 3rd party sites get to pay lower taxes? There are a myriad of other advantages STRs have as well. All hotel rooms must have two means of egress from each bedroom, and fire rated halls. STRs do not. Hotels and motels must have sprinkler systems. STRs do not. Hotels and motels must have high fire rated corridors. STRs do not. Hotels must have hard wired smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors. STR’s do not. Hotels must be fully ADA compliant. STRs do not.

All of these requirements placed on traditional hotels and motels were designed to provide great safety to guests but all come with very significant costs. Yet STRs get to avoid all of these requirements and costs.

Finally most STR operators are not subject to fair housing laws. Hotels are, and this too imposes costs such as training for all staff.

So before anyone feels too badly for STR operators who now are clearly subject to zoning decisions, remember that those owners get to pay lower taxes, maintain properties not designed or built to the same safety standards, and not subject to many of the same regulatory burdens

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