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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Untangling short-term rental issues

  • PALMYRA TWP. (PIKE) - Concerns over short-term rental of houses continue to be a concern at Lake Wallenpaupack. Residents of Tanglwood Lake Estates asked the Palmyra Township (Pike) Supervisors for some guidance, at the Township session June 3rd.
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  • PALMYRA TWP. (PIKE) -Concerns over short-term rental of houses continue to be a concern at Lake Wallenpaupack. Residents of Tanglwood Lake Estates asked the Palmyra Township (Pike) Supervisors for some guidance, at the Township session June 3rd.
        The Township has been working on a proposed ordinance amendment for over a year to address the same concerns, where an owner seems to be turning his home into a commercial business. Township Solicitor Anthony Waldron narrowed the concerns down to three main issues: Disruptive behavior, strain on the sewage system by too many people staying at the house and parking.
      "We don't want to say they can't rent the house," Waldron said.
        Edward Potter, from Tanglwood said that their residents generally follow the rules and regulations at the private community, but short-term renters- such as those only there for the weekend- may not know the rules. Although copies of the rules are distributed, they might be ignored.
       One home owner at Tanglwood in particular has multiple homes in the area he is renting, which is a profitable venture. The houses at Tanglwood, however, are generally three bedroom, or possibly four. They are getting as many as 10 to 16 people staying over.
       Potter said that they have pictures showing one group that started using the community golf course as their private football field.
        While understanding that someone maya rent their home to help pay the mortgage and other expenses, Potter said that this one has turned into a business.
       Tanglwood does not regulate how many rooms are constructed inside, but having 10- 16 people will overload the septic system, he said.
       Waldron said that the Township cannot enforce Tanglwood's restrictive covenants, but if a complaint is filed the Township can investigate the septic issue. A public hearing will be scheduled on the proposed short-term rental ordinance, probably in mid-July or early August. Waldron suggested that Tanglwood send some representatives to the hearing, and may also consider attending the Township Planning Commission meeting beforehand, where the draft ordinance will be discussed.
        Having researched the relevant court cases, Waldron stated that one issue to address is if the house can still be considered "residential" if the owner never or rarely stays there. There is a court precedent that if someone rents by the week it is not considered a "commercial" use, but the court might agree, if the owner rarely if ever lives there, he said.
        The Township is mulling over how they will be able to enforce the ordinance.
         They also are considering not putting most of the new ordinance into effect until January 1st, to give fair warning, Chairman Tom Simons said. Many homeowners may have rental contracts already in affect.
    Page 2 of 2 -    Potter said that this homeowner in question advertises his houses for rent online.
        Supervisor Eric Ehrhardt said that having a rental ordinance requiring an annual permit should give an incentive to the landlord to follow the rules. Off-street parking would have to be verified, and the number of occupants using the septic system. The proposed ordinance would bring penalties, including revocation of the permit after so many violations.
       Simons said that the local Realtors have been appreciative of the Township's concerns.
       Potter stated that after talking with the Township, they have been given hope knowing that the Township is also working on the matter.
       The Township Planning Commission next meets on Tuesday June 10 at 7:30 p.m., at the Township Building off Gumbletown Road. Waldron said that the draft rental ordinance will be on the agenda. Given the required advertising timeframe, he said he did not expect the Supervisors to hold a hearing until their July 15 meeting or possibly August 5th.
        The Township office may be contacted at 570-226-2230.
       

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