Short-term rental properties still hot discussion item in Weston

Despite the passage of new ordinances clarifying the city’s ban on unlicensed short-term rental properties, Weston continues to run into problems with Airbnb operations.

Last month, the board of aldermen approved updated ordinances to deal with its ongoing problems with unlicensed vacation rentals, such as those brokered through Airbnb, VRBO and other online outlets. At the Monday, July 9 meeting, the board authorized the city to send out letters of warning to three unapproved properties. Corporate Cottage, Hatchery House and Paul Schwennesen were sent cease and desist letters after unanimous board approval at the meeting.

Alderman Rebecca Rooney alerted the board to issues with these properties, stating the Corporate Cottage states its rentals are for 30 days, but the actual rate does not reflect that statement. Additionally, the cottage is described as a full house rental, with no property owner or manager on the premises, which is required under Weston’s bed and breakfast code. The Hatchery House was cited for operating with five rooms for rent, when ordinance caps bed and breakfast operations at four rooms.

City clerk Kim Kirby said a property on Spring Street owned by Schwennesen was being advertised as available for rent on Airbnb. Schwennesen was already sent one letter and had removed the listing, but the property was back online. City attorney Jeremy Webb said the new ordinances don’t prevent someone from advertising a property, so an amendment to the code could be in order.

A nuisance letter was also sent to Tin Kitchen owner Sean O’Malley, due to lag in a planned renovation of the back of the Main Street property. Alderman Mark Seymour said the pileup of materials was an eyesore and fire hazard and O’Malley had agreed to get a dumpster for refuse and store other materials inside. The renovation plan was approved by the city’s historic preservation commission in April 2017, but director of public works Mike Large said he had yet to receive final construction plans on the project.

Work was also still under way on the Sebus Brothers True Value Hardware store on Main Street, which was closed earlier this year due to various nuisance and safety problems. Replacement of the roof was almost complete as of the July board meeting, with interior work also proceeding. The building still needs replacement windows and tuckpointing work completed before it could reopen.

Voluntary annexation efforts are also in the works, with a public hearing set for 6 p.m. Monday, July 30 on the annexation of property belonging to Clark Benner, located behind Sharp’s Market on Highway 45.