BY SCOTT SULLIVAN
Should Saugatuck pause acting on short-term rental applications while the city studies reforming current standards? The planning commission will consider doing so at its Thursday, March 16 meeting in city hall at 7 p.m.
The city last month created a short-term rental task force to research the issue and develop recommendations for council to consider. Staff working with legal counsel has provided draft language for deliberation which could be used as a tool to pause new applications in the meantime. The planning commission may elect Thursday to move a draft ordinance to council to achieve that end.
Saugatuck’s 2023 community survey identified the rapid growth of short-term rentals as council’s top priority for addressing. It is not alone. Other communities across Lake Michigan, especially ones drawing tourists, plus cities ranging from Palm Springs to New Orleans have recently instituted temporary permitting moratoriums while they eye retooling municipal codes to address the increase.
The task force will consider the availability of housing here, conflicts with residents and the character of residential neighborhoods. Council hopes to identify potential code reforms relating to certification and regulation of short-term rentals.
The draft ordinance prepared by city staff and counsel can be found on
Page 16 of the PC’s meeting packet at saugatuckcity.com.uploads/1/3/3/9.133977444/pc_packet_3-16-23.pdf.
In a similar vein the commission will also consider a temporary pause on permitting large commercial developments along Saugatuck’s waterfront. That item can be found on Page 9 of the meeting packet.