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Council debates allowing short-term rentals

Article Date: 
21 June, 2013 (All day)

While perfecting the Mountain Green Village PUD master development agreement, the Morgan County Council is grappling with allowing short-term or temporary rentals in the county.
With a world-class skiing facility located nearby, Morgan planning staff is worried the Mountain Green residential area could become a prime spot for short-term rentals such as those seen in Big and Little Cottonwoods Canyons as well as Park City.
“We are trying to head off some of the prospectors trying to mine out residential areas for tourist short-term rentals,” said Charlie Ewert, Morgan’s planning and development services director.  “We don’t want to have the Mountain Green Village become in-and-out rentals.”
“Unfortunately, it is already happening in the Mountain Green area and is causing problems with the residents,” said Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Kelley.  
“A number of people rented their homes out for astronomical funds during the (2002) Olympics specifically when events were held at Snowbasin,” Councilman Lyle Nelson said.  “It provided them additional forms of income.”
According to language proposed to be in the Mountain Green Village PUD development agreement, residences in the area could not offer rental of their properties for less than 30 days.  Rentals on a month-to-month contract would be allowed.
“The issues here is the party house on the corner with a thousand cars parked on the streets.  It’s the hot tub parties and the loud music where no one can get compliance,” Ewert said.  “By the time you get a hold of the compliance officer, they are all gone.”
“The concern is the absentee landlord and the devaluation of properties around it as it become derelict,” Kelley said. “I don’t want to see a town center that becomes derelict and will have to be redeveloped 20 years later.”
Kelley said the language would prevent continual turnover and “homes becoming hotels.”
Condos with timeshare structures would essentially be considered hotels, and as such would only be allowed in the area designated with a hotel zone, Ewert said.  
Councilman Robert Kilmer said enforcing the issue would be difficult, no matter what is included in the development agreement.
“Ten years down the road a guy wants to rent out his home, and the only thing stopping him is a development agreement he had no part of,” Kilmer said.
Ewert agreed enforcement would be difficult and his office is preparing a proposal to include short-term rental issues in county code.  The proposal will be ready for council review in the next couple of months, he said.
He said if the county received evidence short-term rentals were happening, the county attorney could prosecute a criminal case against the land owner.   It would be considered a Class C misdemeanor. 
Ewert noted that officials in Sandy City and Salt Lake County wish short-term rentals were not allowed in their areas at all.
Nelson asked county staff to consult with Summit County officials about short-term residential clauses they may have, specifically in the Park City area.
Kelley said limiting short-term rentals in the proposed Mountain Green development would protect the community.
“The purpose of the development agreement is to negotiate between the developer and the community.  It creates a relationship and a protection to the community,” she said.  “We should do everything we can in the development agreement to protect the community.”
Kelley said short-term rentals are appropriate in areas zoned for resorts, such as what is being proposed on the Morgan County line of Snowbasin.  However, it is not appropriate in a town center, she said.
Nelson said the Mountain Green Town Center could be seen as the lower part of the resort zone.
“People (in Mountain Green) do not want to become Park City,” Kelley said.