To the editor:
Another STR opponent, Jim E. Pietrangelo, has written yet another accusatory and misleading and mostly false letter to the editor. As someone who has served as an elected planning board member, I can attest to the fact that Mr. Pietrangelo is wrong when he makes his false claims regarding zoning issues.
Let me point out just a few.
Mr. Pietrangelo states: "there can be no balancing of residential rights and short-term-rental rights because the latter is antithetical to the former."
The truth is, short-term rental rights and residential rights are not “antithetical.” They are, in fact, one and the same. It’s known as the “bundle of rights” associated with private property ownership which include the right to lease, sell, use, encumber, exclude, enjoy and devise by will. It’s that simple. Homeowners have the right to rent, long term, short term, or not at all. These rights originated from English common law, statutes, and the Constitution. So he’s absolutely wrong.
Mr. Pietrangelo goes on to say: "That’s why towns and cities have separate “residential” and “commercial” zones in the first place — to protect people’s residences from the nuisances occasioned by commerce, including businesses operated in homes.”
While he is correct in saying that towns have separate residential and commercial zones, he completely misses the mark when he claims that STRs are a commercial use of a home. You see, what he fails to understand is that all zoning is land-use based.
Let me repeat that. All zoning is land-use based.
Zoning is not based upon how a person makes an income. It is based upon how property is used. He is wrong when he asserts that a residential dwelling somehow becomes a commercial property and that a STRs are “businesses operated in homes.” They are not. He suggests that STRs are akin to "automative repair or boutique restaurants.” Really? Is he serious? Or ridiculous? Talk about a false equivalency!
The point is that because zoning is based upon the use of a property, when someone stays at a home for a week, or a month, or a year or just one night, the use is exactly the same. The only difference is time, and zoning is not time-based. It is use-based.
Lastly, Mr. Pietrangelo states: "Residential use means use as or consistent with a residence. No one resides in STRs.”
I’m not sure where he dug up his definition of “residential” but here is how it is defined in the Conway Zoning definitions:
RESIDENTIAL/DWELLING UNIT: A single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons living as a household, including provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.
And the state of New Hampshire also defines STRs as a residential use:
NH RSA 48-A:1 Definitions:
“Vacation rental” or “short term rental” means any individually or collectively owned single-family house of dwelling unit or any group of units in a condominium, cooperative, or timeshare, or owner occupied residential home that is offered for a fee and for less than 30 consecutive days. For purposes of this chapter, vacation rental and short-term rental are residential uses of the property and do not include a unit that is used for any nonresidential use, including retail, restaurant, banquet space, event center, or another similar use.