The Elizabethtown Borough Council could vote as soon as September on an ordinance to regulate the practice of renting out rooms in homes to short-term visitors.
The growth of online booking services such as Airbnb has made the practice more common, but existing borough zoning does not regulate the practice at all. The practice does not fall under the borough’s definition of a bed-and-breakfast accommodation if no meals are served to guests; it also does not fall under the definitions of a hotel or motel.
At the Borough Council meeting on Thursday, Aug. 3, Rodney Horton, the borough’s community development director, briefed council members on the proposed regulations drafted by a council subcommittee and borough staff. Horton said the new “short-term lodging accommodations” would be limited to people staying no more than 30 days and could operate at most 150 days out of the year. One off-street parking space must be available for each bedroom, plus there must be two off-street parking spaces for full-time residents of the dwelling.
Horton said no more than two transient occupants would be allowed in short-term lodging accommodations in the central business district, mixed-use and most densely populated residential zones known as “R-3.” Up to four transient occupants would be allowed in the “R-2” zone of moderately densely populated residential areas and up to six transient occupants would be allowed in the “R-1” zone of least densely populated residential areas. Also, short-term lodging accommodations would be inspected by the same people who inspect apartments to ensure that they are safe – for example, requiring that bedrooms have smoke detectors and a means of escape in the event of a fire.
The Borough Council plans to vote at its Aug. 17 meeting on whether to advertise the proposed ordinance for public comment. Borough Manager Roni Ryan said once it is advertised, if no changes are desired, it could be adopted as soon as a meeting in September. If public comment makes council members decide changes are needed, a new proposed ordinance must be advertised for public comment.
In other business, councilors approved a $16,520 change order for a new amphitheater in Community Park after realizing that electrical conduit would have to be brought in all the way from Spruce Street instead of connecting to the old amphitheater’s electric system as originally planned. Also, council members recognized the promotion of policeman Dustin Ryan to detective, which had taken effect on Sunday, July 30.