St. Joseph Leaders Fighting Short-Term Rental Bills

St. Joseph City Commissioners are hoping residents make their voices heard to state lawmakers when it comes to new zoning legislation. A plan in the state House and Senate would strip a community’s ability to restrict short-term rentals. St. Joe Commissioners Monday night warned such a plan, if passed, would mean out of control summer vacation homes in town, something they’ve worked to avoid for years. City Commissioner Jeff Richards said neighborhoods sit empty for half the year when that happens, and schools suffer.

“It’s my opinion that anybody that would be in favor of these bills are anti-neighborhood,” Richards said.

Commissioner Fran Chickering said local rules do not ban short-term rentals, but they balance the need for livable neighborhoods and visitors.

“That’s the way the system should work, not an edict from on high in Lansing,” Chickering said.

Commissioners suggested having a word with state Senator John Proos, who they say sits on a committee that will consider the plan. The Michigan Realtors association, a real estate lobbying group, is pushing it, saying property rights are infringed when local governments ban short-term rentals.