LAKE BLUFF — Structure of the regulations Lake Bluff property owners will face if they wish to rent a portion of their property on a short-term basis is starting to form.
The village’s Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals directed the Lake Bluff’s attorney and staff May 17 at Village Hall to prepare an ordinance requiring a special use permit to operate short-term rentals.
Compiling a variety of restrictions, the PCZBA will discuss the proposed legislation during a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 21 at Village Hall. At that time a recommendation on the ordinance will go to the Village Board of Trustees for consideration as soon as July.
Village Administrator Drew Irvin said after the meeting that the board can accept the recommendation of the PCZBA, modify it, leave the practice unregulated or eliminate it altogether. At the May 8 meeting, all but one trustee expressed a desire for some form of regulation, DailyNorthShore.com reported on May 9 . The other wants a ban.
Some homeowners have been engaging in short-term rentals for a few years, according to an April 16 DNS story. The PCZBA received direction from the board May 8 to craft an ordinance to regulate the practice. PCZBA members discussed issues such as when a property owner must seek a special use permit to rent a portion of their home.
As of May 8, five property owners were renting all or a portion of their home on a short-term basis, most of them through Airbnb. A letter went to those operators May 10 informing them they had 30 days to stop the practice while the village decides what it wants to do, according to Glen Cole, assistant to the village administrator.
Under the direction given at the May 17 meeting, any property owner who wants to rent a portion of their property for 30 days or less must apply for a special use permit, according to Irvin.
Irvin said at the time of the rental, the property must be owner occupied and no more than five rooms can be rented out at any one time. No more than two adults can occupy the room at one time. Off-street parking must be provided.
“There has to be a (space) for a car for each room rented,” said Irvin. “The area has to be screened from its neighbors in some fashion,” he added saying the type of structure must be worked out.
Regulations will also limit the proximity of short-term rentals to each other and increase the number of neighbors who must be notified when a special-use permit is requested.
“Any special use for a short-term rental cannot be within a 1,000-foot-radius of another,” Irvin said. “The normal notice requirement (to neighbors) of 300 feet for a special use will be expanded to 500 feet.”
Commission member Mary Collins suggested anyone applying for a special-use permit for a short-term rental comply with the provisions the State of Illinois has already laid out for bed-and-breakfast operators.
“We already have high standards for bed-and-breakfasts but that’s gone out the window with Airbnb,” said Collins, referring to the company that puts short-term renters together with property owners. “We could use that as our regulation.”
That suggestion made it into the direction given to the attorney, according to Irvin. Click here to read the provisions of the state’s bed-and-breakfast act. The idea requiring the owner to be living there when renters are present came from that law as well as the room limit.
“You can certainly use those regulations,” said Benjamin Schuster, the village attorney present at the meeting. “It has to be owner occupied and there can be no more than five rooms (rented out).”
PCZBA members also made it clear what kind of occupants exempt a property owner from applying from a special-use permit. Schuster said opening rooms to the public makes the difference. It does not apply to a relative or a roommate.
Before the commissioners began their discussion, eight members of the public spoke, and all expressed a wish that short-term rentals not be allowed or highly regulated. If they are, there should be limits on the number of permits allowed and how many nights rooms can be rented, said Lake Bluff resident Peter Acker. He fears for the character of Lake Bluff.
“We’re going to lose our sense of community,” said Acker.
at the June meeting, Irvin said the PCZBA will consider issues such as limiting the frequency of short-term rentals.
Cole said another layer of regulation can be added by the board in the form of a business license. He said that is not something the PCZBA considers or recommends.