LAKETOWN TWP. — Vacation rental owners looking to continue to rent to large groups under Laketown Township’s new rental regulations are facing resistance from neighbors.
Two men from Saugatuck who own and operate three large-scale, short-term rental properties in Laketown Township took a special-use request to the township planning commission Wednesday to be allowed to rent to groups of up to 30 people.
They have been renting the homes on Beeline Road and 63rd Street to large groups for years — they were built specifically for that purpose, the owners said. Rental listings on the short-term rental platform VRBO advertise a capacity of up to 38 people for the two 63rd Street homes.
But recently passed rental regulations in Laketown Township cap short-term rental capacity at 16 people.
The rental regulations did a number of things including mandating registration of all rental properties in the township and legalizing short-term rentals in residential areas. Before the pair of ordinances passed, short term rentals were not authorized but were not explicitly banned, either.
To rent to more than 16 people at a time, vacation rental owners need a special use request to be granted by the planning commission.
The commission is wrestling with whether to grant such a request, when neighbors have raised concerns about the behavior of past groups that have stayed at the rentals.
“My husband has had to go over there multiple times in the middle of the night to ask them to turn down the music, to be quiet,” said one woman who lives next door to the Beeline Road home.
Neighbors complained of noise late at night, fireworks and people trespassing onto their properties and said they were concerned about the resale value of their own houses with the large rentals next door.
“I’m sorry I moved to Laketown,” said Ken Johnson, who lives next door to one of the 63rd Street rentals. “I lived in a few places on the north side of Holland and never had one problem for 40 years. And now I have problems all the time.”
The owners, Patrick Monroe and Scott Robison, said they vet groups before agreeing to rent to them and characterized their guests as primarily large, multi-generational family groups and church groups.
They also said they provide each group with detailed rules about noise and permitted activities, and said they weren’t aware of the extent of the issues neighbors were experiencing.
Commissioners were torn about the special-use request and said they would need time to develop a set of conditions for the owners, if they do approve the properties for up to 30 guests.
“Everything that’s been described by the public isn’t consistent with what our R-1 (residential single-family) zoning expectations are for the township,” said commissioner Chad Nienhuis.
“I think this is a bigger issue than something we can just make a ruling on tonight,” said Jim Johnson, who serves on the planning commission and the township board. “There’s a lot of long-term ramifications. We need to do some research and get some more input before we can land on whether this special use can be granted tonight.”
The commission is considering various safeguards to prevent the rentals from disrupting the neighborhood, such as requiring on-site supervision of the rentals.
The commission directed the township attorney to draft a resolution approving the special use request, with a list of possible safeguards the township could impose.
Last month, the planning commission unanimously denied a similar application for a vacation rental at 4060 Spring Beauty Lane, Holland, to rent to groups of up to 30. Commissioners said the reasons for denial had to do with the location, parking space and limited access to the property.
— Contact reporter Carolyn Muyskens at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cjmuyskens.