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Lake Holcombe Town Board - There’s no regulation for short-term rentals

There’s no regulation for short-term rentals There’s no regulation for short-term rentals

Doug Olson, Lake Holcombe Town supervisor, explains where he’s coming from June 13, about shortterm rentals and some of the problems associated with them, stemming from a lack of regulations. Photo by Ginna Young

By Ginna Young

As the popularity of Holcombe recreation grows, so, too, grow the number of short-term rentals located within the township. While the Lake Holcombe Town Board knows tourism is important, they also know permanent residents are entitled to peace and quiet while living next to the rentals.

The matter was discussed June 13, after it was discovered that the town does not fall under the county ordinance dealing with tourist rooming houses/short-term rentals, because they are not zoned. Therefore, the rentals cannot be regulated.

Town supervisor Doug Olson recently found out about the non-regulation for Holcombe, and even learned about some concerning changes, including prohibiting parking on roads outside the rentals.

“They took that off, you can now park on the town right-of-way, he said.

Olson is concerned that if people park on both sides of the road, emergency vehicles can’t get through, not to mention residents being blocked in. Olson researched the issue and found that many towns are drafting their own ordinance.

“I’d like to see us do something similar, because, frankly, I think it’s getting out of hand,” he said, adding that it is not the seven to 30-day rentals that are the problem, but the weekend renters, who seem not to care how much noise they make, or what time of day or night they do it.

An ordinance would be a good thing, but town chairman Brian Guthman questioned who would enforce that ordinance. Olson feels that if the fee structure was set up right, it could pay for enforcement through the fees collected.

The board agreed to work on the ordinance for future approval.

They also talked over what has become a public nuisance on 259th Avenue. According to complaints, the property owners run a business – Haul Away Junk Removal and Demolition, which involves the improper disposal of those items, including the burning of tires and other things.

The DNR gave the owners a deadline of May 31, to clean up the place, provide documentation of proper disposal and to cease burning, but that has not happened, so say nearby residents. However, it turns out that the DNR has no leg to stand on, as Guthman was told they have a hard time regulating businesses.

Resident Pam Guthman, who is heavily involved in public health, said the town could attempt enforcement on the property as a public nuisance.

“We’re really trying to get people away from burning, because…the air quality is definitely changing, for multiple reasons,” she said.

B. Guthman pointed out that even if the town takes that action and cleans up the property, billing the owners, it could occur again and again. If the owners refuse to pay the fees, the town is out that money.

“If the DNR can’t keep them from hauling in there, it’s going to be a never-ending thing,” he said.

The DNR agent in Holcombe’s area, feels another tact may work and promised to go that route. In the meantime, the board agreed to pay the sheriff’s department to deliver a letter from the town, informing the property owners they are in violation of the town’s public nuisance order.

“Somebody’s got to do something,” said B. Guthman.

The board also adopted an ATV/UTV ordinance, to match the county’s, for easier law enforcement.

“We mirrored what they had,” said B. Guthman. Guthman also reported that the joint agreement between the Sanitary District and the town was worked out, with the sharing of personnel, and the responsibilities of who pays for internet and heating, etc. They also combined their insurance policy to make sure everyone was covered.

“We may save some money overall, because we’re combining two policies into one,” said B. Guthman.

Members also want to see if the town can purchase and install a generator at the town hall, in the event of a severe storm during the winter or winter storm, in which large numbers of people could be housed with heat and electricity. There is a back-up generator at the sanitary building, which could be used, in a pinch, but that’s not ideal, as there could be some liability and safety issues.

“In the middle of an emergency, the last thing you want to look for is an electrician,” said Olson.

During the meeting, B. Guthman mentioned that pulverizing will begin in July, on 295th Avenue and Tuffy Road loop, but the town will not have the residents along there move their mailboxes until paving begins. He also said the driveway permit on the town website has been updated, the county changed the permit and the town was unaware, until people downloaded the incorrect permit.

Jim Mataczynski, town treasurer/Holcombe Area veterans Memorial, has done some thinking and brought up a matter on his mind, about the informal agreement between the town and the memorial. All is good now, but Mataczynski wonders what will happen in the future.

“What happens if the board changes?” he asked. “Do they have anything to go by?”

It was decided a formal joint agreement is needed, with a paper trail, so future boards know exactly what is expected of both parties.