LAKE BLUFF — When the Lake Bluff Village Board of Trustees directed the Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals to study regulations on short-term residential real estate rentals, it expected a recommendation on an ordinance for a special-use permit.
What the board got from the PCZBA at a public hearing on June 21 was a request for a definition of short-term rental.
Seeking more direction from the board, the PCZBA continued its public hearing on a draft ordinance requiring a special-use permit for residents who want to rent rooms in their home on a short-term basis. The hearing took place at Village Hall.
Whether the PCZBA will get further guidance when it meets at 7 p.m. July 12 at Village Hall in a special meeting for the express purpose of crafting an ordinance and making a recommendation to the board is unknown, according to Glen Cole, assistant to the village administrator.
Cole said the issue of short-term rentals will be on the board’s agenda when it meets at 7 p.m. June 26 but he knew no more after the June 21 meeting.
“It will be on the agenda under the village administrators’ report,” said Cole.
Village Administrator Drew Irvin said in a DailyNorthShore.com interview on June 20 that he expected a recommendation from the PCZBA and a board vote June 26. Cole said the board could give the PCZBA more specific instructions or wait for the outcome of the public hearing.
Standing Room Only Crowd Leaves Early
By the time the PCZBA decided to continue the hearing and ask for a definition of short-term rental, more than four hours after the meeting began, only one member of the standing-room only crowd of more than 80 people remained.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, 25 people spoke, with nine in favor and 16 against. Some wanted no short-term rental at all while others suggested not allowing any rentals of less than 90 days. Others wanted to see little or no restrictions.
At the start of the PCZBA meeting, Chair Steven Kraus explained the body’s mission. He said the group was charged with giving the village board a framework for a special-use permit ordinance for short-term rentals and a recommendation on whether to approve it or not.
“You should always vote your conscience,” said Kraus. “If you are not comfortable with the regulations you indicate that in your (vote on the) recommendation.”
The proposed legislation contained 10 provisions, including the proximity of one short-term rental to another, the requirement the owner remain in the property when tenants are present, accessibility for people with disabilities, and more. Click here to read a June 20 DNS article discussing all elements of the proposed act.
The commissioners did not get past the first provision they picked to debate before deciding to continue the meeting. That regulation requires at least one rented room is accessible to disabled people regardless of provisions of state law regulating the issue. Village attorney Benjamin Schuster said the state exempts short-term landlords with four or fewer rooms.
Commissioner Elliott Miller said the village should follow the state law, and Commissioner Leslie Bishop quickly agreed. Commissioner David Burns said his issues with the entire concept went beyond each individual part of the draft.
“My feelings have changed since our (May 17) meeting,” said Burns. “Maybe we should limit the number of days like allowing it 10 days a year. This can’t be good for the village if we don’t get more direction.”
Badger: Feedback Needed from Village Board
Commissioner Sam Badger cast doubt on the ability of the PCZBA to produce a good piece of legislation without more feedback from the board. He was reluctant to go through each of the 10 provisions and then make a final vote.
“If we try to do this at 10:15 on a Wednesday night it’s going to be garbage in and garbage out,” said Badger. “I can’t do this until I have a good idea of what the board wants to see. If we put something forward now it will make no sense.
Kraus suggested continuing the public hearing and urged his colleagues to make a thorough study of the public testimony and the provisions of the proposed ordinance so they can complete their task at the next meeting. He also had hope for more guidance.
“They will see what we said in the minutes,” said Kraus, referring to the village board. “At the very least they will know there was a beginning.”
“I want a definition of short-term rental,” added Burns.
Comments from the public ranged from doing nothing to not allowing short-term rentals at all. Resident Julie Capps said her idea of a short-term rental is 90 days, but she would rather not see one at all. Capps’ husband, Peter Capps, agreed.
Capps: This Is Not Lake Bluff
“This is not what we want to see in Lake Bluff,” said Peter Capps. “It should be a 90-day minimum and no special use.”
Deborah Fischer said she has seen where short-term rentals have worked well for both property owners and the community. She suggested a one-year pilot program.
“Regulations should be as minimal as possible,” said Fisher. “We need to be inclusive, positive and open minded.”
Peter Acker said allowing what he believed amounted to year-in, year-out bed & breakfast facilities in Lake Bluff could change the village’s character. He wants a longer term for any rental.
“I feel it will change the nature of the community to one where people will take what they want,” said Acker. “The minimum should be much longer than 30 days. It should be six months to a year.”
Bob Havrin lives in a Lake Bluff two-flat. He and his wife occupy one unit and rent the other. Some of the time it is rented on a short-term basis. He wants to continue doing that.
“We have been doing this for two years and there has not been a problem,” said Havrin. “If there is not a problem don’t fix it.”