LAKE BLUFF — Before discussing a proposed ordinance regulating short-term residential real estate rentals in Lake Bluff at the request of the Village Board of Trustees, members of the Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals publicly questioned whether it was worth their time.
The PCZBA discussed legislation for the two-year pilot program but not before voting 4-3 during a public hearing March 19 at Village Hall recommending the board not allow short-term rentals despite the trustees’ direction for the PCZBA to tweak the draft ordinance.
The Village Board, meeting as the Committee of the Whole, narrowly decided March 12 to send the draft ordinance to the PCZBA. Village President Kathy O’Hara cast the deciding vote.
More than 25 people attended the March 19 PCZBA public hearing. The Village Board could consider the PCZBA’s recommendation as soon as 7 p.m. April 9 when it next meets at Village Hall.
After hearing Glen Cole, assistant to the village administrator, give an overview of the proposed ordinance and 16 members of the public express their views, Commissioner Mary Collins wanted to know if the PCZBA could recommend a ban of the short-term rentals.
Once village attorney Brooke Lenneman said the PCZBA could vote not to recommend the ordinance, Commissioner Sam Badger suggested a straw poll before any discussion. Commissioner Gary Peters was more specific.
“Why should we sit here and modify the ordinance if a majority wants a ban,” said Peters. “Isn’t it a waste of our time?”
Commission Chair Steven Kraus said the PCZBA was directed by the board to discuss certain elements of the proposed ordinance and relay possible changes to the trustees.
Peters moved for a recommendation against the legislation and it was approved. Commissioner Elliott Miller joined Peters, Collins and Badger voting to recommend against passage of the ordinance. Kraus and Commissioners Leslie Bishop and David Burns voted against the motion to ban short-term rentals.
Kraus said the trustees will have the opportunity to read all suggested changes in the minutes of the meeting.
Badger Questions Ability to Enforce Ordinance Provisions
Badger said he questioned the difficulty of enforcing provisions of the ordinance, while Kraus said it would be policed by neighbors. Badger also said he wanted to see data on the impact of the ordinance on property values. There was talk about the feelings of the community.
“This sounds like a runaway train going through the village,” Peters said. “What would it be like to have a short-term rental in your neighborhood?”
The board directed the PCZBA to delve into the issue of requiring a minimum lot size for a home that would be used as a short-term rental, the minimum number of nights required for renters to stay, and life-safety issues such as interior sprinklers to douse fires.
The consensus of the commissioners was not to require a minimum lot size. There were a variety of suggestions to the board about how often a home can be used for a short-term rental. As currently written, the ordinance requires a two-day minimum stay.
There were no objections to the minimum stay requirement, but there were suggestions that the total number of days of rental during a year be reduced. As drafted, the ordinance allows for no more than 45 days in a year or 15 stays, whichever occurs first. Commissioners suggested lowering the requirement to a total of 30 or 36 days as well as 10 to 12 stays.
Of the 16 members of the public who spoke, 13 opposed short-term rentals in the village while three want to see the practice allowed. Many against the practice expressed concern about safety, the difficulty of enforcement and declining property values. Some wanted to see a voter referendum on the issue.
Other Towns Enact Bans in Past Year
Julie Astbury Capps came with a Power Point presentation saying other municipalities like Park Ridge, Mettawa, Vernon Hills, South Barrington and Rosemont have banned short-term rentals during the more than a year Lake Bluff has debated it.
Capps said Illinois law already regulates bed-and-breakfast establishments and that they would be allowed in Lake Bluff with a special-use permit. She is also concerned about enforcement of regulations.
“The shared economy may be here to stay but there is no way to monitor this activity,” said Capps. “If it can’t be monitored it shouldn’t be allowed.”
Marina Puryear said short-term rentals were needed for people who might be in town for a celebration like a wedding or reunion. She said the ability to find one in Lake Bluff two years ago enhanced her son’s wedding experience. She also had a view on property values.
“As a realtor in the community, I can tell you the division in the community has already affected our property values,” said Puryear.
Mike Brown said he opposed short-term rentals. He was one of six people speaking against the proposed ordinance who said there should be a referendum to let the voters decide. He wants to see a one-year pilot program if the ordinance is enacted rather than two.
Click here to read the DailyNorthShore story that details the proposed ordinance.