2 short-term rental sites face protests – Jamestown Press – Jamestown Press

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Two properties applying to become licensed short-term rentals have reached the highest level of scrutiny for the first time since the ordinance was adopted in August.

The properties, 128 Garboard St. and 87 Bow St., will be considered by the town council during a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16. These are the first two applications so far to require more consideration than administrative approval and ratification by the council.

In addition to the public hearings, two more properties, 88 Columbia Ave. and 143 Hamilton Ave., will appear on the agenda for approval. People objecting to these applications should attend the meeting to raise their concerns.

A public hearing, according to the ordinance, “shall be available to any person requesting to make comment or contest a short-term rental.” Absent an objection, however, the councilors, as the licensing authority per the ordinance, “may approve an application on their consent agenda, without public hearing or deliberation.”

Objections were raised to 128 Garboard St. and 87 Bow St. when the council was considering a batch of 29 applications at its Dec. 18 meeting. The remaining 27 applications from that batch, along with 19 more properties that appeared on the Dec. 4 and Jan. 2 consent agendas, were ratified by the councilors without discussion following administrative approval.

Due to the next level being uncharted territory, the town solicitor, Peter Ruggiero, explained the process.

“Because this is new, and it’s the first time you’re running into it, we want to just double-check and make sure we are doing it right,” he said. “In the ordinance provision, it says that once everybody is certified as complete, they go on the list, the list gets advertised and it’s put on your consent agenda for action. You can approve it without a public hearing so long as there are no objections. You allow for people to raise an issue, and they have that right. An individual will have a right to request a public hearing on the applicant if they have an objection.”

Both men with objections spoke during the open forum but were asked to reiterate their challenge during the consent agenda.

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Erin Escher, of 252 Seaside Drive, raised an objection to 128 Garboard St, which abuts his property. He said the “negative impact of some of the tenants” includes the “ongoing disruption to the quiet enjoyment of our residential space we call home.”

“It really is an impairment to the integrity of the residential character of the Jamestown Shores neighborhood,” Escher said.

Objecting to 87 Bow St. was Karl Seelig, of 11 Deck St., who lives one street over from the proposed short-term rental. He questioned whether properties in the neighborhood, citing the high groundwater table, had legal septic systems.

Although the property is listed as having a septic system in municipal records, there are no engineering details in the report, he said. Seelig was told to check with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. He also could not find the information he sought through that agency.

“I think the Shores needs special attention for verifying for septic systems to make sure they are engineered,” he said.

The councilors have discretion in considering these applications. The ordinance, which was passed in August, says the authority “reserves the right to set limits on the total number of short-term rentals permitted.” That could be a town-wide limit or based on the block, neighborhood or area. The councilors also can set limits “at their discretion upon showing of need based on finding disruption to the quiet enjoyment of a residential area, negative impact on the seasonal or affordable housing rental markets, or impairment to the integrity of the residential character of particular areas.”

The properties already licensed as short-term rentals are 14 Fairview St., 15 Buloid Ave., 61 Narragansett Ave., 164 Capstan St., 125 Circuit Ave., 73 Conanicus Ave., 73 Standish Ave., 83 Mast St., 16 Southwest Ave., 173 East Shore Road, 14 Buoy St., 83 Clarke St., 52 Lawn Ave., 47 Clinton Ave., 100 Clinton Ave., 7 Grey Gull Lane, 2 Stern St., 29 Arnold Ave. and 76 Howland Ave.

Also, 15 Melrose Ave., 170 Narragansett Ave, 120 Racquet Road, 2 Harbor St., 195 Seaside Drive, 143 Frigate St., 15 Starboard St., 14 Mizzen Ave., 12 Friendship St., 77 East Shore Road, 26 Starboard St., 49 Narragansett Ave., 14 Harbor St., 230 Conanicus Ave., 16 Emerson Road, 135 Longfellow Road, 23 Conanicus Ave., 318 Seaside Drive, 14 Pemberton Ave., 28 Newport St., 83 Bay View Drive, 6 Knowles Court, 49 Hamilton Ave., 24 Pierce Ave., 30 Seaview Ave., 33 Clinton Ave. and 59 Intrepid Lane.

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