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Village quickly should create rules on rentals

In a perfect world, property owners would be able to use their property as they see fit — provided, of course, that the use is not illegal nor disruptive.

We realize, though, that isn’t always possible.

In Poland Village recently the owners of a home on Diana Drive received a cease-and-desist letter after they attempted to use their property for short-term rentals. Then, by a 5-1 vote, Poland Village council this week halted such use of village homes, at least for now.

We understand council’s desire to maintain control over issues that might affect neighborhood makeup, traffic, property values and quality of life for all residents. In this particular instance, questions surround proper zoning. The property is zoned residential, but short-term rentals could require a conditional-use permit.

It doesn’t appear that the attempt to rent the home was nefarious. Rather, the couple said they purchased the property in September with the intent to relocate there. However, like many things in life these days, those plans were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. So to help cover the mortgage payments, they opted to use the home for short-term rentals, and intended to take measures to “filter” and limit the number of guests. That sounds logical.

We hope council’s effort to control property use in the community does not ruin potential to grow tourism or to bring visitors to Mahoning County, particularly at a time when business everywhere is suffering.

In the meantime, we are pleased to see council approach the issue logically without any impromptu permanent decision. Rather, council has agreed to debate the issue seeking a solution that will benefit both property owners and neighbors. The moratorium also will allow council time to review ordinances, verifying which parts “match up” with short-term rentals, officials have said.

On the recommendation of village solicitor Jay Macejko, the moratorium will last until Dec. 31.

It’s clear by the amount of page views the Poland home received on the online home rental site that the home and / or the location is highly desired. The property, first launched on Airbnb on Christmas Eve, garnered 4,500 views in its one week. Indeed, online home rental sites have grown in popularity and so the potential is great for this property and others in the area to benefit.

The owner said she promoted Mill Creek Park and local businesses, among other local features.

“We set this up because our area needs it,” she said. “Airbnb is not a bad thing.”

The couple also told council they want to work with the village to develop ordinances involving short-term rentals. Bravo! Council should welcome that exchange.

We urge zoning officials, council, the tourism bureau and other members of the community to work together to resolve this matter quickly by developing specific guidance for residents who choose to rent their homes to visitors. Doing so could create a win-win situation for both the property owners and the area.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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