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Mount Joy Township Discusses Regulation of In-Home Lodging

Mount Joy Township supervisors discussed possible regulations for short-term rentals such as Airbnb, but took no action on the matter.

Airbnb and a number of similar services allow people to rent out their homes, or individual rooms, to travelers. Currently, Mount Joy Township only allows rentals of less than 30 days at licensed hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts, so it is illegal to be an Airbnb host, but the ban is not being enforced. Township supervisors agreed that the practice should be allowed in some form, but that regulations are needed.

“We have short-term rentals in the township. Technically, they’re illegal, but they’re out there,” Township Manager Justin Evans said at the township supervisors meeting on Monday, March 18.

Evans and supervisors discussed possible regulations including whether to allow the rental of individual rooms or whether an entire dwelling needs to be rented out. Another question is whether to have occupancy limits to prevent overcrowding. Another possibility is allowing short-term rentals only in single-family detached houses and not in duplexes or townhouses where walls are shared with other dwellings. Neighboring Elizabethtown Borough already regulates this sort of rental. The borough allows it only in a home that is occupied by the owner, though it can be offered as a short-term rental for months at a time, such as if the owner spends the winter in a warmer climate.

Also at the meeting, supervisors discussed what to do about the Mill Road Bridge crossing the Conewago Creek; the other side of the bridge is in Conewago Township, Dauphin County. Mount Joy Township had asked three engineering companies for proposals; two offered to do the work for about $250,000 and one for about $90,000. Evans said once he looked into why the proposals were so different, he learned that the companies pricing it at about $250,000 were planning on replacing the entire bridge, but the cheaper proposal was to use the old piers and only replace the superstructure. Although no action was taken supervisors and Evans agreed that it would be wiser to replace the entire bridge.

“We need to fix it right or we don’t fix it at all,” Supervisor David W. Sweigart III said.

Supervisors also discussed options for the Prospect Road Bridge, which carries a little-used road over the Conewago Creek and also has its other end in Conewago Township, Dauphin County. Evans said Conewago Township had previously told him that Mount Joy Township would pay 20 percent of the cost of fixing up the bridge, Conewago would pay for 20 percent and Dauphin County would pay for 60 percent, but the day after Mount Joy Township’s February meeting, Conewago Township told him that Mount Joy Township would have to pay half the cost. Mount Joy Township supervisors agreed to table the matter until more information is obtained.

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