Vacation Rental Ordinance Passed Unanimously in Rehoboth Beach - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Vacation Rental Ordinance Passed Unanimously in Rehoboth Beach

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- After months of discussion, the Rehoboth Beach commissioners voted to pass the long-anticipated “Vacation Rental Ordinance,” which included a policy on occupancy limits. The ordinance is the latest in a string of regulations, passed by the council, looking to stop the spread of large rental units that are often referred to as “mini-hotels.” 

The ordinance, which was the eighth version considered by the council over 10 meetings, was passed unanimously during a Monday morning workshop. The ordinance creates a local contact person, who is responsible for dealing with any problems that may occur at the rental unit. It also creates a checklist that renters are obligated to follow. But perhaps the most controversial aspect is the limit on occupancy, using a “two-plus-two” formula. This formula allocates two people for a structure, and then adds an additional two people allowed for each bedroom. That would mean that a 10-bedroom rental home would have an occupancy limit of 22 people. 

Commissioner Stan Mills led the discussion on this ordinance, and said that it is a good balance between homeowners and renters. 

"From where we started,” he said. “When I believe the ordinance was good intended but was burdensome for both the landlords and the city -- I think we've brought it down to the essentials.” 

At Monday’s workshop, there were various people giving public comment. That included realtor Timothy Green, the owner of “The Sea Voice,” a rental unit, located on 14 Delaware Avenue. Under the new occupancy limit, Green would only be able to accommodate 24 people, although he currently accommodates 36 people. He said he will be seeking an exception from the City Manager. 

"My greatest concern is still the occupancy…” he said. “It’s still not a well-defined mechanism for determining how exceptions will be granted moving forward." 

Meanwhile many homeowners, including Susan Gay, said they were happy with the vote. Gay thought that more action should be considered in the future. 

"One of the things that was not dealt with,” she said. “Was a maximum occupancy which other towns have done. Dewey has effectively a maximum because they deal with parking. Fenwick has a maximum, Henlopen Acres has a maximum. And we do not.” 

Most of the changes will go into effect this summer season. The occupancy limits will begin in January 2017. 

Most of the debate on Monday was over the length an exception would last. The commissioners decided that they would last for two years, before the building owner would need to re-apply. 

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